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Understanding UV Radiation and Its Impact on Skin Cancer Risk

UV radiation is a significant contributor to the development of skin cancer, a prevalent and potentially life-threatening condition. Understanding how UV radiation affects the risk of skin cancer is crucial for individuals to protect themselves and make informed choices about sun exposure. In this article, we will delve into the topic of UV radiation, its effects on the skin, and how various factors such as time of day, seasons, weather conditions, and reflective surfaces can impact UV levels. Additionally, we will address the important question of whether UV rays can penetrate glass and discuss the level of protection windows offer against UV radiation.


UV radiation is a form of electromagnetic radiation emitted by the sun. It consists of three types: UVA, UVB, and UVC. UVC is absorbed by the Earth's atmosphere and does not reach the surface, while UVA and UVB radiation can penetrate the atmosphere and reach our skin. Prolonged and unprotected exposure to UV radiation can damage the DNA in skin cells, leading to mutations that increase the risk of skin cancer, including melanoma, basal cell carcinoma, and squamous cell carcinoma.


Assessing UV levels is essential for gauging the risk of sun exposure. Several factors influence UV levels throughout the day, including the angle of the sun, time of year, and weather conditions. The UV Index is a measurement scale developed to inform individuals about the intensity of UV radiation in a specific area at a given time. The index ranges from 0 to 11+, with higher values indicating higher UV levels. Monitoring the UV Index can help individuals plan outdoor activities and take appropriate sun protection measures.


UV radiation levels are typically highest between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. when the sun is at its highest point in the sky. During these hours, the angle of the sun's rays is more direct, leading to increased UV exposure. In general, UV levels tend to be higher during spring and summer due to the Earth's tilt and the sun's position. Additionally, certain weather conditions, such as clear skies and minimal cloud cover, can amplify UV radiation. It is important to note that UV rays can still be harmful even on cloudy or overcast days when the intensity may be less apparent.


UV radiation can reflect off various surfaces, leading to increased exposure and potential skin damage. Water, sand, snow, and concrete are examples of surfaces that can reflect UV rays. The reflective properties of these surfaces can significantly enhance UV levels, especially in environments near bodies of water or at higher altitudes where snow is present. It is essential to take precautions and apply adequate sun protection even in shaded areas or when surrounded by reflective surfaces.


UV radiation has the ability to penetrate glass, including windows. While window glass blocks the majority of UVB rays, it is less effective in filtering UVA rays. This means that even when indoors or inside a vehicle, UVA rays can still reach the skin and contribute to long-term sun damage. Therefore, relying solely on being indoors or sitting by a window is not sufficient for complete UV protection. To minimize UV exposure, it is advisable to apply broad-spectrum sunscreen, wear protective clothing, and use window films or coverings that offer UV protection.


Understanding the impact of UV radiation on skin cancer risk is essential for maintaining skin health. By being aware of UV levels and taking appropriate measures to protect oneself from excessive sun exposure, such as using sunscreen, seeking shade, and wearing protective clothing, individuals can significantly reduce their risk of developing skin cancer. Remember that UV radiation can reflect off surfaces, and windows may not offer complete protection against UVA rays. Stay informed, prioritize sun safety practices, and consult with a qualified skin cancer doctor for regular skin checks to ensure early detection and timely treatment if needed.

Protect your skin and prioritize your health. Book a regular skin check today with our qualified skin cancer doctors at Melanoma Scan. Early detection saves lives, and our team is dedicated to providing comprehensive skin checks to ensure your well-being. Take the first step towards skin cancer prevention and peace of mind.  Call us now at 1300 754 600 or book online page to schedule your appointment at one of our three local skin cancer clinics in Toombul, Mitchelton or Warner

Melanoma Skin Cancer

Skin Cancer Clinic Toombul

9 Parkland Street
Nundah, Qld 4012
Ph: 07 3256 6766

Skin Cancer Clinic Mitchelton

Unit 1, 23 Blackwood Street,
Mitchelton 4053
07 3855 8500

Skin Cancer Clinic Warner

1405 Old North Road,
Warner 4500
07 3106 1340

Book Online

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Call Us at 1 300 754 600