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Sun and UV Rays

The dangers of overexposure to the sun

The sun is essential to life. It particularly helps meet our Vitamin D requirements. It is therefore necessary to benefit from the sun and to be active outdoors. However, as is the case with heat, exposure to the sun can have effects on one’s health. It is therefore a good idea to avoid long-term exposure to the sun and to protect our skin.

UVA and UVB ultraviolet rays from the sun that cause people to tan are carcinogenic. In addition to causing sunburn, excessive exposure to UV rays can cause skin deterioration and can increase the risk of skin cancers. In Canada, approximately 77,000 new cases of skin cancer are diagnosed every year. Close to 90% of these cases are caused by repeated exposure to ultraviolet rays.

Even on cloudy days, ultraviolet rays pass through clouds and can be dangerous. They can also penetrate water to a depth of one metre. UV rays are also dangerous in winter, because they are reflected by the snow.

Children’s skin is thinner and, therefore, more vulnerable than adults’ skin is. It is important to protect small children, especially from sunburn, since this is associated with various skin cancers.

How do you protect yourself from the sun?

• Keep babies and small children in the shade;
• Protect your children by having them wear a long-sleeved shirt and a hat, even when they are playing in the water;
• Make sure you take an umbrella with you when you go to the beach;
• Protect your eyes and your children’s eyes by wearing tinted sunglasses in summer and winter alike;
• Protect yourself from the sun by using sunscreen. Re-apply it frequently, especially after swimming; and
• Check your skin often. See a doctor if a mole or spot changes shape, if it widens or if the lesion changes colour, bleeds or itches.

Artificial Tanning

Even though the use of tanning beds and sun lamps comes with serious heath risks, their popularity continues to grow across Canada, particularly in Quebec. In addition to increasing the risks of skin cancer, artificial tanning also increases the risk of premature skin aging. Skin aging can be seen by the appearance of brown spots and wrinkles.

Moreover, tanning salons are only for people aged 18 and older, as of June 2103, following the adoption of the bill aiming to prevent skin cancers caused by artificial tanning.

Useful links

Ministère de la Santé et des Services sociaux - Rayons UV Ouvre une nouvelle fenêtre.

Pdf document. Ouvre une nouvelle fenêtre. Notre santé et notre environnement en Outaouais - Le soleil nécessaire, mais parfois dangereux 
PDF File: 54 KB | Available in French only