Why does the sun age your skin?

The man you see on the picture is truckdriver Bill McElligott *. He is a 69 year with one side looking as 65 en the other side looking as 85. He drove his truck for 28 years through the streets of Chicago, letting the sunlight pour in through his window.

Mr McElligott finally visited a medical clinic after his grandchildren kept asking why his face was so different on one side. “We are used to seeing photo damage by the sun, photo aging, every day, but I was taken aback when I saw how one-sided this was,” Dr Jennifer Gordon, a dermatology expert who treated Mr McElligott, told The Daily Telegraph from Texas.

Mr McElligott spent so much time in his truck that his left side was exposed daily to UVA rays which can penetrate glass and cause the majority of photo-aging, unlike UVB rays, which cause sunburns.
Dr Gordon said: “UVA can penetrate window glass, which makes his vocation as a truck-driver important.”

The big problem with UVA is that it damages the skin without a warning, like sunburns from UVB. It ages your skin slowly and when you find out, it’s to late. UVA has also been shown to induce DNA mutations and direct toxicity, leading to the formation of skin cancer. This is why it’s so important to put on a sunscreen or any other product with a SPF (Sun Protection Factor). Don’t skip it in the winter when the sun is visible!

His damaged face has finally led to the Cancer Council of New South Wales advising professional drivers to think about getting their vehicles windows tinted to reduce sun exposure.

* The rights of the picture belong to the New England Journal of Medicine

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