Which UV Rays Cause Cancer?

Ultraviolet (UV) radiation is categorized into three types based on their wavelengths: UVA, UVB, and UVC. Among these, both UVA and UVB rays have the potential to contribute to the development of skin cancer.

  • UVB (Ultraviolet B) Rays: UVB rays have a shorter wavelength than UVA rays and are more energetic. UVB rays are responsible for causing direct DNA damage in the skin cells, which can lead to mutations and eventually contribute to skin cancer development, including melanoma, squamous cell carcinoma, and basal cell carcinoma. UVB rays are more intense during midday and can cause sunburn. However, they are also partially absorbed by the Earth’s atmosphere, which is why they are less prevalent at lower latitudes and during certain times of the year.
  • UVA (Ultraviolet A) Rays: UVA rays have a longer wavelength and are less energetic than UVB rays. While UVA rays are less likely to cause sunburn compared to UVB rays, they are still a significant contributor to skin damage and skin cancer development. UVA rays can penetrate deeper into the skin, and they contribute to premature aging of the skin and the formation of free radicals that can lead to DNA damage. Prolonged exposure to UVA rays is associated with an increased risk of skin cancers, including melanoma.

It’s important to note that protecting your skin from both UVA and UVB rays is crucial to reduce the risk of skin cancer. This includes using sunscreen with broad-spectrum protection, wearing protective clothing, seeking shade, and avoiding excessive sun exposure, especially during peak UV radiation hours (usually between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.).