Research Topic (Global Challenge): Measuring how UV rays would cause or affect skin cancer
Chosen Area of Focus: Measuring how Ultraviolet (UV) rays would cause or affect skin cancer
1. Statement of problem (framing our research topic):
Our research topic is ‘Measuring the lethal effects of UV rays on skin cancer’. We have chosen this topic as the earth’s temperature is increasing with a higher amount of carbon dioxide in our atmosphere. This causes global warming, leading to the depletion of the ozone layer and thus, more harmful UV rays from the sun would be able to reach us. It also results in greenhouse effect whereby the earth’s average temperature increases, and ultimately leads to global warming. However, that is not all. Prolonged exposure of UV rays are harmful to our skin as they cause numerous skin diseases, one of which is skin cancer. Over 2000 people die each year from skin cancer and the number of skin cancer cases has more than doubled since the 80s. Cancer is difficult and expensive to treat, and it spreads towards the other healthy organs which pose as a health hazard. As such, we wanted to measure the amount of UV rays and observe how it would cause or affect skin cancer.
2. Research Objectives
The following are our research objectives as to why we are conducting our research study and what do we hope to achieve and understand from this study
- What is the purpose of this research?
- What kind of information do we hope to get?
- How will the information be communicated to our audiences?
- How will our research information be gained
3. Literature Review (Brief summary of at least 3 sources that you have consulted with reference to your research topic)
We used the following links to assist us in our research study.
- "Effects of UV Radiation on You." Student's Guide -. Biospherical.com, n.d. Web. 07 Feb. 2014. <http://uv.biospherical.com/student/page4.html>.
There are positive effects of UV rays on us. For an instance, they assist our body in the production of Vitamin D that helps strengthen bones in our body and protect us from diseases from bacteria such as Rickets. They also reduce the risks of having certain cancer (e.g. colon cancer) Moreover, it aids in the treatment of psoriasis, a condition whereby the skin shed its cells too quickly, which results in itchy scaly patches of skin. During the treatment, UV rays are shone onto the infected area, as they are exposed to the rays, the growth of the cells are slowed down, thus relieving the condition.
However, we have to bear in mind that there are not only positive effects that UV rays bring about to us. It can also cause harmful effects which can lead to increased health problems.
Of the many common effects that are brought about due to overexposure of UV rays, sunburning or erythema occurs. Another effect is photoaging, many common symptoms are wrinkles and loosening of skin.
In order to inform the public about the intensity of UV radiation the UV index was invented and is now published in newspapers and on TV. If the Index reads 1-3 this means there is low exposure; whilst 4-6 means medium; and 7-9 means high. The UV index is directly proportionate to the UV exposure levels.
Ultraviolet rays can be reflected towards the eyes by certain substances, such as sand and snow. Due to this, the amount of UV rays the eyes are exposed to is increased. Which then leads to the condition, photokeratitis, also known as snow blindness. Photokeratitis is a sunburn of the cornea, and usually recedes within one to two days. It occurs when the eyes are exposed to large quantities of UV light in a short amount of time. The reflection of UV rays off of snow and sand are enough to incur this injury.
There are three basic types of skin cancer: melanoma, basal cell carcinoma, and squamous cell carcinoma. Basal and squamous cell carcinoma make up the most common and less dangerous forms, called non-melanoma cancers. UV rays, especially UV-B rays are one of the main causes of this diseases.
Some scientists hypothesised that UV-Radiation is much more effective in causing melanoma than assumed previously.
- “World Health Organization- Health effects of UV Radiation” <http://www.who.int/uv/health/en/>
Small amounts of UV are beneficial for people and essential in the production of vitamin D. UV radiation is also used to treat several diseases, including rickets, psoriasis, eczema and jaundice.
Prolonged human exposure to solar UV radiation may result in acute and chronic health effects on the skin, eye and immune system. Sunburn (erythema) is the best-known acute effect of excessive UV radiation exposure. In the long run, UV radiation induces degenerative changes in cells of the skin, fibrous tissue and blood vessels leading to premature skin aging, photodermatoses and actinic keratoses. another effect is an inflammatory reaction of the eye. In the most serious cases, skin cancer and cataracts can occur.
Worldwide some 12 to 15 million people become blind from cataracts annually, Furthermore, a growing body of evidence suggests that environmental levels of UV radiation may suppress cell-mediated immunity and thereby enhance the risk of infectious diseases and limit the efficacy of vaccinations.
Using established methodology and best available estimates on UV-related mortality and morbidity, this report estimates that annually around 1.5 mill DALYs (Disability-adjusted life years) are lost through excessive UV exposure. A counterfactual zero population exposure to UV would generate a substantial burden of disease through diseases of vitamin D deficiency. This, however, is only a theoretical possibility since the large majority of people is casually exposed to UV radiation such that extremely low Vitamin D levels are rarely found.
3. "Positive and Negative Effects of UV." Science Learning Hub RSS. N.p., n.d. Web. 10 Feb. 2014. <http://www.sciencelearn.org.nz/Contexts/You-Me-and-UV/Science-Ideas-and-Concepts/Positive-and-negative-effects-of-UV>.
Over-exposure to UV radiation has a harmful suppressing effect on the immune system. Scientists believe that sunburn can change the distribution and function of disease-fighting white blood cells in humans for up to 24 hours after exposure to the sun. Repeated over-exposure to UV radiation can cause even more damage to the body's immune system. The immune system defends the body against bacteria, microbes, viruses, toxins and parasites(disease and infection). You can see how effective the immune system is by looking at how quickly something decays when it dies and the immune system stops working.
4. Proposed Hypotheses
UV rays have negative effects on the skin cells in our body. One of the more common ones is sunburn. Sunburn occurs when skin cells are damaged by the absorption of energy from UV rays. To compensate for this injury, the skin sends extra blood to the damaged skin in an attempt to repair it - thus accounting for the redness that is associated with sunburn. The amount of time it takes for a sunburn to occur is dependent mostly on the relative amounts of UV rays that are hitting the skin, and on a person's skin type. People with naturally dark skin already have inherently high levels of melanin, and so are able to spend a longer amount of time in the sun before burning, if they burn at all. Fair-skinned people don't have it quite so easy - burning can occur within a relatively short amount of time.
Another effect of ultraviolet rays on the skin is photoaging. Recent studies have shown that many of the symptoms commonly associated with mere aging (i.e. wrinkles, loosening of the skin) may instead be related to UV exposure - so though your tan may look good now, you could be paying your dues in wrinkles later.
5. Research Plan (Describe how you intend to design your research i.e. who/what you are going to research on, how many respondents, your study area/location etc)
Who/What are we going to research on:
- The age group of people who are more prone to skin related diseases
- Skin Cancer
- Causes of skin cancer
- Treatment for skin cancer
- Symptoms of skin cancer
- How to prevent skin cancer
6. Analysis of data
Skin Cancer Rates in different Regions of the World: