How UV Causes Cancer and Aging


UV at ground level is non-ionizing but it damages DNA and causes photoaging – how? Also, it turns out glass doesn’t block all UV (specifically UVA passes through). This is something I learned filming with the UV camera inside.

Special thanks to Dr. Hayley Golbach, @hayleysgold on twitter https://twitter.com/hayleysgold

Ultraviolet light causes damage to DNA, leads to cancer and photoaging: age spots and wrinkles. I was curious about this because UV is technically non-ionizing. A photon of UV doesn’t have enough energy to strip an electron off atoms or molecules. However it does have enough energy to trigger photo-chemical reactions. For example, it causes pyrimidine dimers – the unauthorized covalent bonding of adjacent thymine or cytosine bases in our DNA. If these spots are not properly repaired, they may lead to mutations and cancer. Photoaging is typically the result of degradation of collagen and elastin fibers – scaffolding that supports the skin. This leads to wrinkles and saggy-looking skin.

Huge thanks to Patreon supporters: Donal Botkin, Michael Krugman, Jeff Straathof, Zach Mueller, Ron Neal, Nathan Hansen, Yildiz Kabaran, Terrance Snow, Stan Presolski, James M Nicholson, KIMoFy Support Veritasium on Patreon: http://ve42.co/patreon

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