Let’s Talk about Sunburns (and cancer)

Now that summer’s over, now seems like the perfect time to talk about sunburns!

First, I’m sorry if you’re Scottish like me, and that your skin is likely the same colour as this page and you go from snow white to tomato red in 36 seconds flat. Trust me, I wish I could tan and get bronzed (bro!), but I can’t. It’s either pasty white, or hot sauce red; nothing in between.

First, you should know that when you get a sunburn, it’s not your skin cells being damaged by the sun and dying, it’s your skin cells’ DNA being damaged by the sun’s radiation, and the skin cells are killing themselves so that they don’t turn into cancer. Yep, your skin cells commit suicide so that they don’t damage the body as a whole. Since this process is technically not perfect, this is also the reason why you can get skin cancer from being out in the sun without protection.

For Men, the most common places to get sunburn and potentially skin cancer, is the back of the neck, or the left arm. Why the left arm? Well, men like to drive and put their arm out the window as they drive, and they drive to work and from work (most commonly) as the sun is rising or setting, so their left arm is almost always in direct sunlight. This holds true for all ages, however it’s most common in Men over the age of 50.

For women, the same areas are common for the same reasons, however due to potentially fairer skin, as well as thinner skin (literally, that’s not a euphemism for men vs. women, etc.), the risk for women is significantly more common for ages 18-49 by almost 200% over men.

Jeff Wilton

Jeff is the founder and owner of Everyday Science Stuff. ESS is a one man operation, with the core belief that all education should be served without crippling debt tuition, without revenue generating ads and without any restrictions of any kind such as paywalls, forced login and account creations, geographical restrictions, and so on.

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