Spending time outside can be great for our mental health it does however pose some serious risks to our physical health if the necessary precautions are not taken.
Sunlight is a major source of ultraviolet radiation, which in large amounts can damage the DNA of your skin cells by creating mutations (errors in your DNA code). These mutations can lead to unlimited skin cell growth resulting in a mass of cancer cells .
South Africa is really sunny and it is therefore not surprising that we have the second highest rates of skin cancer in the world. Anyone, regardless of skin colour, can get skin cancer but the risks are particularly high if you have fair skin, moles, spend a lot of time outdoors or driving, have a family history of skin cancer or if your defense (immune) system is weak from diseases such as HIV.
Thankfully, there is a lot you can do to minimize your skin’s exposure to damaging UV rays:
Keeping an eye on your skin is really important. If you notice any new skin growths or changes in moles, freckles or birthmarks, head to the doctor right away to deal with the problem while it is still easily treatable. If you have moles a doctor should check these at least once a year.
All these measures are easily do-able, so lather up the sunscreen, deck yourself out in a stylish hat and summer gear and head off into the sunset without a care in the world.