Good reasons to protect ourselves from the sun in summer

The sun is necessary for plant and animal life. Like plants, humans need the sun to live. The sun helps us to synthesize vitamin D (essential for our bones), is fundamental in the regulation of the circadian sleep-wake rhythm and has other biological and psychological functions essential for the correct functioning of our body.

However, “the sun has a double face because when ultraviolet radiation (UVR) is too high, it is dangerous to health for several reasons. Skin cancer and cataracts are the main problems it causes, but they are not the only ones. For example, it has been shown that intense UVR is able to reach cells circulating in the blood by reaching their DNA and altering our immune status.”

This is why the dermatologist Virginia Sánchez Virginia Sanchezhead of dermatology service HM Hospital Sanchinarro, constantly reminds us of the importance of sunbathing but always protecting yourself.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has created a UVR measurement index that is now used worldwide, including Spain. This index can be consulted at any time at:

Here we will see a size from 1 to 11 or more and different colors. When the UVR index is 1-2 (green) you can sunbathe without any precautions. When it is 3 to 5 (yellow), sun exposure is allowed, although with certain precautions at midday. Between 6 and 7 (orange) the UVR is considered high and therefore it is recommended to be in the shade at midday and to use photoprotection methods such as sunglasses, topical sunscreen, clothing, hat, etc. A UVR index of 8 to 10 (red) is very high and justifies avoiding going outdoors during the central hours of the day, and the use of photoprotection measures is essential.

Dr. Sanchez reminds us that “Before exposing ourselves to the sun, we should know what the ultraviolet radiation index is on that day in the geographical location where we are. This way we won’t make a mistake when choosing the activity we will do that day and the precautions we will take”.

The people most vulnerable to the sun are:

  1. People with light skin and eyes.
  2. Children.
  3. Elderly.
  4. People with personal or family history of cancer.

Although dark-skinned people have a lower risk of developing skin cancer, they are also sensitive to the harmful effects of UVR on the eyes and immune system.