How Does Ultraviolet Light Kill Cells?

By now you probably aware how much damage UV rays do when it strikes at you but do you know what happen to the cells after being hit? Read on to find out more.

The fact is, as ultraviolet light strikes to each cell, it kills by damaging the DNA contained within the nucleus of the cell). The energy from UV light is transferred and starts a chain reaction between two molecules called thymine – one of the bases that make up the coding in our DNA.

While a single shot affecting to the thymine (called thymine dimers) is easily replaceable and simply efficient by a gene product called p53; the problem starts when the total damage becomes extensive.

The longer (or the more intense) the sun exposure, more thymine dimers will form within the DNA, increasing the probability of incorrect repair and replacement, hence the possibility that the affected cell will be unable to function as they should, known as mutation.

After this step it gets murkier – depending on the two possibilities for the cell where the cell will be programmed to ‘kill itself’ (called apoptosis) or change into precancerous or cancerous cells, setting the stage for abnormal cell growth, and in turn a starting development of cancer.

Each cell of your body relies on the same set of genes as the main blueprint for copying and creating new cells, should the older ones die or gets damaged (in this case, UV rays) by using the ‘messenger’ for DNA called mRNA. By bombarding cultured human cells with UV-C – the highest form of UV rays – approximately 14 percent of the genes switched forms after being hit by UV ray.

Definitely calls for a worry, as we already know that exposing your skin to UV rays will cause your skin ton tan/sunburn (as a skin reacts by producing melanin) and also eye damage, by clouding the cornea tissue and can lead to cataracts.

And the findings do highlight the fact that UV ray will cause you damage and the importance of sun-protection habits is more paramount than ever. A good dose of high SPF, broad spectrum sunscreen and coupled with protective clothing should be your number one priority.

Hopefully, with this piece you’ll be able to understand why the doctors have been urging you to apply appropriate sun-protecting habits and doing so with informed decision. Obviously, the damage done is indeed more than just sunburn.



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