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Unveiling the Dangers of UV Rays

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Unveiling the Dangers of UV Rays

Summertime is for spending time outside and soaking up the sun. Whether hiking, swimming, walking, or simply basking in the sun, you risk damaging your skin. Skin cancer is the most common of all types of cancer. This type of cancer most commonly occurs due to sun exposure on your skin. The sun produces ultraviolet radiation even when it is cloudy outside, or you cannot see the sun. Understanding the dangers associated with spending time in the sun is vital.

Skin Cancer

UV radiation is the leading cause of skin cancer, affecting millions worldwide. The World Health Organization (WHO) reports that excessive UV exposure is responsible for up to 90% of non-melanoma skin cancers and a significant proportion of melanoma cases.

According to the American Academy of Dermatology Association, 1 in 5 Americans will be diagnosed with skin cancer in their lifetime. But the sun’s UV rays can cause more damage than just skin cancer.

Damaging Effects of UV Radiation

  • Premature Aging: Prolonged exposure to UV radiation can accelerate skin aging, causing wrinkles, age spots, and a leathery texture. Sun damage cannot be reversed. Once UV radiation has changed your skin cell’s DNA, the damage to your DNA is permanent. Premature aging due to UV radiation is also called The natural age progression of your skin is not preventable, but photoaging is.
  • Eye Damage: Our eyes are susceptible to UV radiation, and prolonged exposure can lead to various eye conditions. The American Optometric Association (AOA) warns about the harmful effects of UV rays on the eyes, including cataracts, macular degeneration, and photokeratitis (sunburned cornea). Wearing sunglasses that block out 100% of UV rays can protect your eyes and prevent damage.
  • Weakened Immune System: UV radiation can suppress the immune system, making individuals more susceptible to infections and diseases. Scientists have found that excessive UV exposure impairs immune responses, increasing the risk of conditions like herpes simplex and shingles. In addition, usually, your skin is prepared to fight against cancer, but excessive exposure weakens your immune system to protect against skin cancer.
  • Sunburns: One of the most immediate consequences of UV exposure is sunburn. Sunburn damages the DNA in skin cells and significantly increases the risk of skin cancer. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states that just a few severe sunburns in childhood can double the risk of melanoma later in life.

 Protection Against UV Rays

Most weather apps can tell you the UV index for each day. The UV index forecasts the strength of UV rays each day. If the UV index is higher than 3, it is crucial to protect yourself. The CDC recommends the following:

  • Stay in the shade
  • If possible, wear clothing that covers your arms and legs
  • Wear sunglasses that protect against UV rays
  • Use a broad-spectrum sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 15 or higher

How FSBP Can Help

If you are concerned about skin cancer and would like to be seen by a dermatologist, Foreign Service Benefit Plan (FSBP) can help you! As a member of FSBP, you can get care from a dermatologist (in-network or out-of-network). If you use our in-network providers, you will pay less. If you are living abroad, any dermatologist will be covered by the in-network benefit. FSBP does not require referrals to see a specialist.

In addition, you can use our telehealth services, Teladoc™ (for U.S.-based members) or vHealth (Worldwide) (for members living abroad). Teladoc™ and vHealth (Worldwide) services are 100% covered and can provide access to a doctor or specialist for non-urgent medical questions or mental health support from the comfort of your home via phone, video, or app.

You can contact Teladoc™ via phone, web, or the Aetna Health mobile app. For more information, please call 855-Teladoc (855-835-2362) or visit You can contact vHealth (Worldwide) directly at +44 (0) 20 3499 2851 or +1 (0) 8572 563 784 or visit for more information or to register.

While the sun provides warmth and a sense of joy, we must be aware of the dangers posed by UV radiation. Skin cancer, premature aging, eye damage, weakened immune system, and sunburn are just a few of the serious risks associated with UV exposure. Protecting ourselves from harmful UV rays using sunscreen, protective clothing, and sunglasses and seeking shade during peak sun hours is vital for maintaining our health and well-being. Remember: UV rays may be invisible, but their impact on our health is all too real.

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