Deleterious effects of Ultraviolet radiation on the incidence of skin cancer

Deleterious effects of Ultraviolet radiation on the incidence of skin cancer

Being part of the 16% of body mass, the skin is considered to be the largest organ of the body, and one major protective barrier of the body as well. Skin not only plays a significant role in resistance to infectious pathogens, chemicals agents, sun (UV and IR) rays but also, participate in the various skin's physiologic responses.

However, in the absence of proper skin care or being sensitive to environmental aggressors, our skin becomes helpless to protect themselves from the concerned harmful effect. From the last several years, it also has been seen that the increased exposure of sun has exerted a negative impact on skin care and played a significant role in surging the incidences of several types of skin cancer.

Like noxious lifestyle and unhealthy eating habits, extreme exposure of ultraviolet (UV) rays is also deemed to be one of the most common cancer risk factors. It is very essential to understand that the sun not only provides us with heat and vitamin D but can also gift skin cancer.

Therefore, let's understand how we can prevent our skin from being cancerous and harmful effects of UV rays:

  • Common risk factors for skin cancer
  • Ultraviolet radiations and skin cancer relationship
  • Ways to prevent skin from UV radiations
  • Conclusion

Common risk factors for skin cancer

Skin photo-type, prior history of non-melanoma skin cancer, increasing age, pigmentary traits like hair and eye colour, tanning beds and UV light exposure.
Out of all these, UV exposure found to be one of the major cause behind spurting the risk of skin cancer. It can evident from the results of various research analysis:

  • As per a case-control study conducted in the Netherlands found that reported sunburns happened before age of 20 years associated with a higher risk of skin cancer.
  • In another conducted Canadian case-control analysis, history of extensive sunburn during childhood showed significant associations with higher skin cancer.
  • It has been also noticed that skin cancer is usually developed in sun-exposed skin areas.
  • Skin cancer is positively associated with the quantity of UV radiations obtained and negatively associated with the extent of skin pigmentation.

But why sun has become one of the biggest enemies of the skin? Why did its extreme exposure find to be deleterious and harmful for skin cells? It is very crucial to understand the clear role of UV light in the initiation and progression of cancer to prevent skin cancer. Let's scrutinize this relationship:

Ultraviolet radiations and skin cancer relationship

As we know sun emits majorly three types of ultraviolet rays: UVA, UVB, and UVC. Out of this, UVB is the major culprit of enhancing the risk of skin cancer.

Let's explore the involved mechanisms behind this:


Mutations and DNA damage:

  • UV radiations are known to produce mutagenic lesions or photo-products in the adjacent pyrimidines in the form of the dimer. Pyrimidines and purines are the basic structural components of DNA.
  • Along with mutagenic properties, UV rays stimulated pyrimidine dimers also interfere with cell cycle regulation involving DNA. The photo-damaged DNA further might leads to inhibition of transcription factor binding. This creates a great carcinogenic environment.
  • In case of no proper cancer treatment, UV-promoted DNA lesion can be modified to permanent mutation, known with the name of UV “signature” mutations.

Uncontrolled cell growth and carcinogenesis

  • UV radiations not only acts as initiator and promoter in carcinogenesis but also initiates the events inside the cell at molecular levels like DNA mutations due to oxidative damage, depurination, deamination of 5-methylcytosine or DNA polymerase incorporation errors.
  • Also, UVA alone is not a potent carcinogen. But UVA rays significantly acts as instigator along with UVB in promoting skin carcinogenesis.
  • These mutations in DNA can be in the dormant stage for many years until exposure towards a promoting agent (can be carcinogenic or initiator).

Mutated tumour suppressor gene

Tumour suppressor gene like p53 significantly acts to protect the cell from being damaged. Its mutation can create a suitable environment for the initiation of carcinogenesis.
It is found that high-frequency UV induced skin cancers associated with significant mutated p53 gene.

Depressed immune system

  • Immune surveillance is one of the major shields that protects skin cells from destruction and damage.
  • However, intense exposure of UV rays can depress the immune system of the skin, which substantially helps to enhance the risk of skin cancer.

These are the mechanisms through which deleterious UV rays can convert healthy skin cells into the cancerous one and increase the risk of being affected by skin cancer.

To get needed protection from the harmful rays of the sun, you must include all possible preventive measure. It will not only reduces the risk of getting skin cancer but also makes your skin protected, healthy and salubrious.

Ways to prevent skin from UV radiations

Apply Broad Spectrum Sunscreen
A broad-spectrum sunscreen is the best way to get protection from the harmful rays of the sun. It will protect your skin from both UVA and UVB rays. Remember to apply sunscreen thoroughly and 15 minutes prior to going out in the sun. Also, reapply sunscreen every two hours to keep your skin fully safe from the UV rays.

Cover exposed skin areas
No doubts, you are applying enough sunscreen. But also remember to cover your exposed skin areas as it will help you to get double skin protection.

Prevent going directly under the sun in peak hours
In the mid-day, the impact of UV rays remains at its peak and can affect in a more deleterious way. Therefore, avoid direct contact with the sun during this time of the day.

Have healthy food
Include healthy foods enriched with antioxidants and phytochemicals in your diet. It will work in two way: reduces the impact of UV rays and also fight against uncontrolled cell growth in the body.

These are some of the things which you should keep in mind to protect your skin from UV radiations. This will leads you to get healthy skin and body.


UV rays and skin shows a significant negative impact. Its high exposure can really exert detrimental impact on skin and considerably increase the risk of skin cancer. Therefore, it is very essential to protect your skin from the sun all the time.

Live healthy life, maintain healthy weight, eat healthy and adopt all the preventive measures to keep skin and overall body healthy and safe.

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