ISLAMABAD: Ultraviolet radiations (UVR) cause sunburn and skin cancer and accelerate skin ageing in fair skinned persons faster than dark skinned persons, said the head of the department of dermatology of Pims, Dr Ikaramullah Khan, Thursday.
He said only people with fair skin need to be concerned at overexposure to the sun. Though it is true that dark skin has more protective pigment, it is still susceptible to the damaging effects of UVR. The incidence of skin cancers is lower in dark-skinned people; nevertheless skin cancers occur and are often detected at a later, more dangerous stage, he added. He added that a child’s skin was thinner and more sensitive and even a short time outdoors in the midday sun could result in serious burns. “Epidemiological studies demonstrate that frequent sun exposure and sunburn in childhood set a stage for high rates of melanoma later in life. Children have more time to develop diseases with long latency, more years of life to lose and more sufferings to be endured as a result of impaired health. Increased life expectancy further adds to people’s risk of developing skin cancers. Children are more exposed to the sun,” he said.
He said parents should serve as role models, adding it was their responsibility to ensure that their children were protected adequately. They should always keep infants of less than 12 months in the shade, he added.
The new WHO report is the first-ever systematic examination of the global health burden due to UVR. It investigates nine adverse health outcomes from excess UVR exposure. The main three, which cause the greatest burden of disease from UVR, are cutaneous malignant melanomas, and non-melanoma skin cancers developing in different cell layers of the skin (squamous cell carcinomas and basal cell carcinomas). In addition, UVR causes sunburn, skin photoageing, cortical cataracts (eye lens opacities), pterygium (a fleshy growth on the surface of the eye), reactivation of herpes of the lip (cold sores) and the rare squamous cell carcinomas of the eye.
Source: The Post, 2/5/2008