How Harmful Are UV Rays?

Rayward Apparel

Our skin's number one enemy is UV (ultraviolet) radiation, but just how bad is it? Like most things, there are a lot of misconceptions about sun protection and it really depends on length of exposure, but it’s proven to cause cancer and definitely something you should be protecting yourself from. Thankfully, most UV shirts for men and women do exactly that - keep you protected.

How & When Are People Exposed to UV Radiation?

The Sun and UV Damage

Women Tanning UV Exposure

The main source of UV radiation is the sun, which we are exposed to at different levels throughout the day. UV radiation from sun exposure does not penetrate past the skin, but can be extremely damaging and cause cancers which then permeate through the body. Look for products with a high SPF or UPF rating to determine the amount of UV protection a sunscreen or fabric provides.

The sun emits three types of UV radiation, but only two of them even reach our skin:

  • UVA: long wave ultraviolet waves. These do not cause sunburn, but are shown to damage the DNA of skin cells overtime and can lead to skin cancers overtime. Only broad spectrum sunscreens protect you from UVA rays in addition to UVB rays, but UV shirts for men and women with a high UPF rating always protect you from both.
  • UVB: short wave ultraviolet waves. These have more energy than UVA rays and damage the outer surface of your skin directly and are the reason you get a sunburn. Also, UVB rays are thought to be the leading cause of most skin cancers such as melanoma, basal and squamous cell skin cancer. 
  • UVC: The highest energy waves the sun emits, but these never reach our skin thanks to the interaction with our atmosphere. However, this is sometimes emitted through various man-made objects.

Tanning Beds and UV Exposure

The next most common exposure to UV is through tanning beds. While the amount of exposure depends on the duration and the specific lamp used, exposing yourself to unnecessary UV radiation should be avoided.


  • Black-light lamps
  • Mercury-vapor lamps (but these generally only have dangerous UV rays when broken)

UV Studies and Statistics Related

Skin Cancer and UV Exposure in the United States

Building representing US Skin Cancer Facts
  • 9,500 people in the US are diagnosed with skin cancer every day
  • More than 2 people die of skin cancer every hour
  • 90% of non-melanoma skin cancers are associated with UV exposure from the sun
  • The annual cost of treating skin cancer in the US is $8.1 Billion
  • 3.3 million people in the United States need skin cancer treatment annually

Link Between UV Exposure and Cancer in Men & Women

Certain cancer research organizations study and post the findings of the different causes of cancer. The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) and National Toxicology Program (NTP) are a couple of them. Below are a few of the many UV related causes that the IARC and NTP have linked to cancer:

  • Solar Radiation
  • Use of UV-emitting tanning devices and exposure to sunlamps/sunbeds
  • Broad-Spectrum UV radiation (including UVA, UVB, and UVC)

Summary of UV Exposure for Men & Women

UV exposure is not something you should take lightly. You should always keep your skin protected with either sunscreen or proper sun protective apparel if you are spending time outdoors.

You should schedule an appointment with your dermatologist immediately if you are concerned about your UV exposure and worried you might have developed skin cancer or have any concerning spots. The included video has a quick summary for things to look for if you are worried at all. Here at Rayward Apparel we are passionate about skin protection, but we are not skin cancer professionals and cannot give medical advice. If you have any questions or concerns about your health, it’s always best to consult with a doctor.

Protection with UV Shirts for Men & Women

We are committed to helping the battle against skin cancer. We make UV shirts for men and women, all with a UV protection rating of UPF 30 or better. Also, Rayward Apparel donates 5% of all online sales to the Melanoma Research Alliance. This directly supports the research and treatment of skin cancer.

Source: American Cancer Society