New Study Explains Why We Sunburn

July 18, 2012

SunburnIf you’re in the sun too long, when it’s too bright or at too high an altitude, your skin turns red, sore, and, eventually, peels. But it’s not actually a “burn” caused by the “sun”, as intuitive as getting cooked on a hot summer day might be.

When you’re in the sun too long, UV rays cause RNA in your cells to break. It’s not the RNA that works with DNA—but a different, non-coding type. When it becomes damaged, it triggers inflammation of the body (the same classic symptoms of sunburn: pain, redness, and sometimes swelling).

Inflammation is responsible for removing damaged and dying cells. In this case, removing cells with broken RNA helps the body prevent the cell from becoming cancerous.

People who sunburn more often than others are more likely to get skin cancer, and that makes sense. More sunburns means there’s been more exposure to UV radiation, more damaged RNA, more chances that one of those cells got missed and developed into a carcinoma.

A little bit of sun is healthy, it helps the body produce Vitamin D, one of the many benefits of which is that it helps prevent depression. But if you’re going to be out in the sun longer than 20 minutes, it’s important to wear sunscreen (does anyone say sunblock anymore?).

Sunscreen blocks UV radiation from getting to the skin and causing the broken DNA that leads to sunburn, and, possibly, skin cancer. The risk is not letting it give you a false sense of security: to be effective, sunscreen needs to be reapplied after a vigorous sweat,  on swim breaks, or every couple of hours depending on what strength you have.

Here’s a guide to picking a sunscreen with minimal bad chemicals.

If you do get sunburned, take steps to fight the inflammation and save your skin from peeling. Apply aloe vera liberally, and eat lots of fruit. Besides having tons of antioxidants to fight inflammation, fruits often have a high water content, helping to keep you hydrated. Of course, you should be drinking lots of water as well, and maybe an occasional iced tea, since tea also has a lot of antioxidants!

Don’t forget Colloidal Silver, like MesoSilver, which has been used for centuries on burns. Supplementing with colloidal silver can help strengthen and support the immune system.

What are your tips for remembering to put on and reapply sunscreen? Any trusted brands you recommend? Share below!

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