Yes, it is I, Mr. Party Pooper once again to tell you why you shouldn’t be enjoying the things that you are.
With each season if the year I focus a way that people are celebrating life and try to quash it in an ongoing effort to make your life bland if not completely miserable. This season I am picking on the sun. I’m here to tell you that the sun is bad. Yes it makes plants grow, warms us up, and brightens our world, but in reality (my reality) the sun is evil and it is trying to kill you.
As you look in the mirror and admire that beautiful tan, realize that you are looking at a defense mechanism that your body uses to protect against ultraviolet radiation. Ultraviolet radiation is emitted by the sun in enormous amounts, travel to our world at 186,000 miles a second and hits the atmosphere. Fortunately most all of the UV radiation, about 98 percent, is blocked by the atmosphere, but some gets through. This is mostly A with a little B. Realize that ultraviolet light is just a smidgen away from x-rays. You might imagine that standing in front of an x-ray machine wouldn’t be entirely healthy; neither is lots of exposure to UV.
UV likes to wreck things. Look at the paint on the southern face of your house. It may look a little chalky or faded. That is the work of UV. It hits the paint molecules and tears them apart causing them to slough off as house dandruff. It bleaches the pigments and eventually you get an albino house. You won’t get house cancer because paint is not living, but you are.
When UV hits your skin, this high energy light snaps the bonds between the DNA molecules and creates a mutation. Usually the cell will die or be repaired by a special enzyme called DNA polymerase, but sometimes the repair goes wrong a cancer cell results. The more UV exposure, the more likely you are to get skin cancer.
Whether you get cancer or not, UV will cause other damage. By munching on collagen and elastin proteins, UV causes the skin to become tough, inflexible and wrinkled. It cuts and tears more easily and heals more slowly. Pigment cells are damaged and the skin looks splotchy. Vessels are damaged and dilated and you get those little red squiggly things. Sun exposure is responsible for about 85% of skin aging.
Are there any healthy things about the sun? Well vitamin D seems to be about it. Vitamin D, which really isn’t a vitamin, but more like a hormone, has all kinds of very important functions in the body. Without it we would die. You can get the benefits of vitamin D without the sun.
There are a few other healthy uses for sunlight such as the treatment of psoriasis. If sun still sounds good, think about melanoma. The relationship between melanoma and sun isn’t entirely clear, but being light skinned and getting burned definitely increases the risk. The other common skin cancers, basal and squamous, are absolutely caused by sun.
It is true that these have a very low mortality rate, but if that makes you feel safe, imagine me standing over you with a scalpel saying, “This won’t hurt….me.”