Feel The Burn... Sunburn


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80 degrees and not a cloud in the sky, Saturday afternoon was ideal weather for the first home game at Beaver Stadium. Unfortunately, it seemed like not too many students remembered to wear sunscreen along with their Penn State attire. After the game, I noticed countless students suffering from sunburn. Even though I did not wear sunscreen, I was fortunate enough to somehow not get burnt... But why did so many others?

According to Mayo Clinic, "people with darker skin have more melanin, which offers some protection from sunburn but not from UV-induced skin damage." So basically, even if you didn't turn tomato-red from being outside at the game, your skin is still suffering, you just can't see it at the surface. But then there's still the people who say, "I don't need suntan lotion; I never burn. I just get tan." Regardless of your skin color, the sun's energy is still absorbed into the skin and capable of damaging DNA cells. When these cells die, they release damaged RNA.

We've all heard it a million times: one bad sunburn puts you at risk for skin cancer. But what's really going on with our skin cells? Your skin reacts to UV light by accelerating the production of melanin, which is the dark pigment that gives your skin its natural color. Extra melanin is produced to protect your skin's deeper layers, which creates a darker external skin color (or as we call it, a "tan"). Melanin amounts vary genetically, and some people can't produce the amount needed to protect the skin well enough, causing sunburn. According to Dr. Richard Gallo, professor of medicine at University of California, "The inflammatory response is a normal part of our protection against the sun."

 According to skincancer.org, over the past three decades, more people have had skin cancer than all other cancers combined. While not all cases of skin cancer are preventable, many are. So why do we even take the risk of not wearing sunscreen when it could help save our lives? Are we that "obsessed" with being tan? Do we not care? Do we have the mentality that it won't ever happen to us, or are we just unwilling to face the facts? It's time our world, more specifically our generation, wakes up and puts on some sunscreen.

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2 Comments

Hi Kara,
I just have to say that reading this actually scared me a little. I am one of those people that "never burn" and thus, rarely wear sunscreen when I'm out in the sun. Sure, every now and then at the beach I would get a little red in the shoulders, but would quickly dismiss it. The fact that you pointed out that just because its not visible, all people still burn, is very alarming to me. I never thought of it that way and always considered it sort of a "out of sight, out of mind" sort of situation. Most people don't think anything bad will happen to them, let alone cancer, and this prospect is unfortunately more common than we would like to think. According to theSkin Cancer Foundation, 1 out of five Americans will have skin cancer in their lifetime. I'm currently sitting in the HUB with two of my friends, and the numbers are frightening. So, thank you for pointing this out to me. I will try to make my most valiant effort to actually put on sunscreen! By the way, this post was very well-written, look forward to reading more from you!

xoxo
-Kelly Gibson

I didn't mean to scare you, but I'm glad my blog post got through to someone! I always have worn sunscreen from the time I was little, so I never really questioned it. It wasn't until my high school years that I noticed so many people were either not wearing sunscreen and/or using tanning beds... I was shocked. My parents never let me tan for prom and never let me leave the house during the summer without asking "did you remember to put on sunscreen?" Even though I hated them for it 99% of the time, I'm thankful they did, because it became a habit. It's scarier now that we're old enough to understand just how powerful the sun can be and how easily it can damage our skin. A cousin of mine who is only 23 was just diagnosed with skin cancer, and it was really a wakeup call for me... It can strike at any age, so it's much better to be safe than sorry!

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