A new study published in the journal Science has revealed that more than a quarter of a middle-aged person’s skin may have already made the first steps towards cancer.
Analysis of samples from 55- to 73-year-olds found more than 100 DNA mutations linked to cancer in every 1 sq cm (0.1 sq in) of skin. The team, at the Sanger Institute, near Cambridge, said that the scale of it was “surprising” and that although we should not be “terrified” it drives home the message that “these mutations accumulate throughout life, and the best prevention is a lifetime of attention to the damage from sun exposure.”
How does the sun damage skin?
UV rays penetrate deep into the skin and damage cells. These cells are then at risk of becoming cancerous. You can’t feel UV damaging your skin and it happens even when the sun doesn’t feel hot.
Getting sunburnt causes the top layers of skin to release chemicals that make blood vessels swell and leak fluids. Skin turns red and feels hot and painful, and severe sunburn can lead to swelling and blisters.
After you’ve been sunburnt, the skin peels to get rid of damaged cells. Eventually, it will heal and look healthy, but permanent damage may have been done.
How the Sun Changes Your My Skin
Exposure to the sun changes your skin and is bad for it in the following ways:
• – Can create pre-cancerous and cancerous skin lesions due to decreases in the skin’s immune function.
• – Can cause benign tumours.
• – Creates fine and coarse wrinkles.
• – Causes freckles.
• – Creates skin pigmentation – a mottled/aged affect.
• – Causes a yellow discolouration of the skin.
• – Destroys the elastic and collagen tissue and thereby causing lines, wrinkles and sagging skin.
The statistics in these findings are shocking. It reinforces the line of thinking that prevention should always be the first line of defence. When out in the sun I recommend wearing protective clothing, seeking shade and choosing a sunscreen with a broad spectrum sun protection factor (SPF) that is based on active ingredients that will support your skin in addition to the effect of the SPF. These tips are really good sun safety practices.