Tanning and Ultraviolet Effects

By: Dr. Michael Lam, MD, MPH; Justin Lam, ABAAHP, FMNM

Tanning and its ultraviolet effectsUltraviolet effects largely depend on the location, duration and the time of sun exposure. With sensible sunlight exposure, your body gains access to immense benefits of ultraviolet (UV) radiation. However, spending excess time under sunlight can lead to serious health issues. Our earth’s atmosphere acts as a natural protective layer blocking most of the UV radiation from the sun.

The ozone layer present above the earth filters most of the UV rays to protect life on earth. Whatever amount penetrates through has both positive and negative effects. However, increased pollution and global warming are gradually depleting the ozone layer. Consequently, more UV rays are now reaching the earth which is hazardous to life.

The aesthetic practice of deliberate tanning can change the way you look, but in the process, you are risking your health. And there is no such thing as a healthy tan. When you are exposed to sunlight, your skin secretes a dark pigment melanin to protect against UV radiation damage. The dark tan offers sunburn protection only up to certain extent. It is a sign of skin damage and shows that your body has responded to protect itself against sun damage. However, tanned skin by no means protects you against the harmful ultraviolet effects of the sun.

Ultraviolet Effects On Your Health

Sensible exposure to the sun’s UV rays helps with the synthesis of vitamin D essential for strong bones, muscles and immunity system. UV rays also help treat certain skin conditions, improve mood and lower blood pressure levels. The intensity of sunshine, as well as location and time of exposure, are all vital factors.

On the other hand, prolonged sun exposure causes adverse effects. Damaging ultraviolet effects of radiation are stronger near the equator as the sun is closest to earth at this location year-round.

Here are some of the harmful ultraviolet effects of radiation overdoses:

Skin Cancer

Long term exposure to UV rays from the sun can trigger skin problems including skin cancer. The UV radiation damages our DNA and immune system, raising the chances of cancer. Research reveals that almost 90 percent of skin cancers are caused due to UV rays. Repeated skin damage from sun exposure can also trigger an abnormal cell growth leading to melanoma or cell cancer.

Almost 75 percent of deaths from skin cancer are due to melanoma. Though it is the rarest, melanoma is the most dangerous kind of skin cancer. This type of cancer is high in New Zealand and Australia among people between 20 – 35 years old.


Sunburns and other ultraviolet effectsWhen exposed to the sun, your skin absorbs energy from UV rays. Repeated UV ray exposure damages your skin causing sunburn. To repair damaged skin, more blood flows to the area. This is the reason your skin looks red with a sunburn.

Irregular Melanin Production

Repeated skin damage from sun exposure can affect melanin production. As you age, melanin gradually forms into clumps giving the appearance of age spots and freckles on your skin.

Impeded Collagen Production

UV rays can slow down collagen production thus causing damage to the elasticity of your skin. This results in your skin beginning to sag – which produces wrinkles and sunspots. Around 19 – 20 years of age, you might not even notice the skin damage from the sun. This is because over 47 percent of sun damage does not become noticeable until the later stages of your life – literally years later! Hence, it is always important to take protection from the sun right from an early age.

Suppressed Immune System

Overexposure to UV rays can suppress the immune system. Research shows that sunburn can alter the functioning of white blood cells in your body. White blood cells are the defense system of that protects your body against virus, toxins, bacteria, and parasites. Repeated exposure to UV radiations can leave the white blood cells more damaged hampering your immunity. This can affect the inflammatory circuit of the NeuroEndoMetabolic stress response system (NEM).

Eye Damage

Research shows that overexposure to UV rays can raise the chances of cataracts (which if left untreated can further lead to blindness). According to estimates, UV radiation may be responsible for over 20 percent of cataracts which can be avoided. Although curable with surgery, cataracts reduce eyesight.

The ultraviolet effects of rays can also cause cancer of the sensitive skin around eyes. The best way to prevent eye damage from the sun is to wear sunglasses that offer up to 99 to 100 percent protection against UV rays.

The good news is that most of the sun induced damage can be prevented by adopting simple yet effective techniques. Applying good quality sunscreens, covering the head with a cotton cloth or hat, wearing good quality sunglasses and using an umbrella can all help to minimize the harmful effect of ultraviolet radiation on your health.

A few minutes of sun exposure before 10 a.m. or after 4 p.m. can be beneficial for people with Adrenal Fatigue Syndrome (AFS). However, those in the advanced stages of adrenal fatigue have a weak body and should not spend more time outdoors under the sun. Further, people with special health conditions such as photosensitivity are particularly sensitive to UV rays. Hence, they should stay out of the sun.

Rays, Ultraviolet Effects, and Your Adrenals

ultraviolet effects and your adrenalsIn our present world, we all face stress almost every day leaving us fatigued, but there are people who struggle with extreme fatigue almost every day in their lives. When you frequently feel highly fatigued along with symptoms such as insomnia, difficulty in waking up, low energy levels, brain fog, drops in concentration, anxiety, constipation, and stubborn weight gain, then Adrenal Fatigue Syndrome (AFS) might be the root cause of the problem.

The NeuroEndoMetabolic (NEM) Stress Response system is the natural defense system of the body. The system is comprised of the endocrine (heart and adrenal) and metabolic parts which work in unison to battle excess stress.

Breathing in fresh air and spending some time under the natural sunshine is an effective stress fighting tool. It boosts your adrenal health and can prove extremely helpful in AFS.

Since the body is usually weak in AFS, it is important that people should take extra care while considering sunshine as a part of their adrenal fatigue recovery process. Prolonged exposure to ultraviolet radiation from the sun has many negative effects on the body as it creates undue stress on your body and adrenals.

Those in advanced stages of adrenal fatigue are sensitive to sunlight and temperatures. Just a few minutes of sun exposure is enough to trigger an adrenal crash.

The adrenal glands, hypothalamus and thyroid glands and other systems function in close coordination to regulate your body temperature. In adrenal fatigue, your adrenal glands are overburdened and unable to deal with stress as well as the body’s demand. In the process, the functioning of hypothalamus gland is also affected. Thus during heat or cold, it becomes difficult to maintain the body’s core temperature. Your body loses its ability to tolerate temperature changes. This exerts pressure on your adrenal glands thus worsening adrenal fatigue symptoms.

Hence, people with AFS are more sensitive to sunlight. Most healthy people find heat therapy and sauna relaxing, but it is not healthy for people with AFS. Sauna use can cause extreme body detox. In AFS your body is weak and incapable of excreting the high toxins released from heat therapy. Further, UV radiation can lead to free radical formation which puts stress on your body as well.


How ultraviolet effects can lead to increased fatigueSunshine is nature’s reserve of energy packed with natural healing power. Sensible sun exposure can work as a natural medicine which can greatly help to alleviate stress, muscle pain, joint pain, and several other health disorders. When exposed to the sun, your skin absorbs energy from the ultraviolet rays. This helps with synthesis of vitamin D which is highly essential for development of stronger bones, muscles and immunity system. UV radiation can also help improve mood, lower blood pressure and provide relief from certain health conditions.

However, with repeated exposure of the body to sunlight, ultraviolet effects of sun rays can cause damage. The extent of damage depends on the location, time of day, and duration of exposure. Prolonged exposure to ultraviolet radiations can cause skin cancer, sunburn, eye damage and suppress the immune system.

Most of the sun’s damage can be prevented through simple techniques such as using SPF, wearing sunglasses, and carrying an umbrella when stepping out into the sun. Moderate sun exposure can be helpful for people with AFS. However, in advanced adrenal fatigue, the body can be very weak and sensitive to sunlight and high temperatures. Just a few minutes of sun exposure is enough to trigger adrenal fatigue symptoms.

People considering sunlight for adrenal fatigue recovery need to take extra care. They should refrain from spending more time outdoors or in sunlight. Sauna and heat therapy can also cause extreme body detox. During AFS, the body is not functioning well enough to be capable of excreting these toxins. People with adrenal fatigue should stay away from the sauna.

© Copyright 2017 Michael Lam, M.D. All Rights Reserved.

Dr. Lam’s Key Question

For people with AFS, moderate exposure to sun’s ultraviolet rays can help to reduce stress, reduce blood pressure levels and promote good sleep. However, in advanced stage of adrenal fatigue, the body is weaker. During this phase, the adrenals are overburdened. The body becomes sensitive to sunlight and temperature. Hence the effect of ultraviolet rays can harm the body. Overexposure to ultraviolet rays can damage the white blood cells thus suppressing the immunity system and affecting the inflammatory circuit of NEM. It also creates stress on your adrenals.

ultraviolet effects