Everybody needs some sun exposure to produce vitamin D (which helps calcium absorption for stronger and healthier bones). But unprotected exposure to the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays can cause damage to the skin, eyes, and immune system. It can also cause cancer. There are other contributing factors such as heredity and environment. But sunburn and excessive UV light exposure do damage the skin. This damage can lead to skin cancer or premature skin aging (photoaging).
Tanning is the skin’s response to UV light. When UV rays reach the skin, the skin makes more melanin. Melanin is the color (pigment) that causes tanning. Tanning does not prevent skin cancer.
In most cases, ultraviolet rays react with melanin. This is the first defense against the sun. That’s because melanin absorbs the dangerous UV rays that can do serious skin damage. A sunburn develops when the amount of UV damage exceeds the protection that the skin’s melanin can provide. A suntan represents the skin’s response to injury from the sun. A small amount of sun exposure is healthy and pleasurable. But too much can be dangerous. Measures should be taken to prevent overexposure to sunlight. These preventive measures can reduce the risks of cancers, premature aging of the skin, the development of cataracts, and other harmful effects.