Many types of solar radiation filter through our atmosphere and reach the surface of the earth. Visible light is lovely, but ultraviolet light is higher energy and can damage molecules like DNA. DNA damage often comes in the form of thymine dimer formation, when two neighboring “Ts” bind together. When cells replicate, mutations can occur in DNA at the dimer sites. If these mutations are in genes that regulate how often a cell divides (oncogenes), the mutation can cause cancer. Don’t forget the sunblock, y’all!
It was a sunny day in early June
I’d been spending too much time alone in my room
I went outside so I could catch some rays
Laid down in my hammock and fell into a daze
Ooh, I’ve never felt quite so at peace
Feel that sun coming through the leaves
I closed my eyes and heard a bird sing a tune
Before I knew it it was late afternoon
My eyes popped open, things were not the same
I was screaming out in pain
And it’s a SUNBURN! When will I learn?
That UV light is wrecking my eyesight
I fried my DNA, I hope I’ll be OK
I swear I’ll never do it again
Sunburn baby, I’ve been out all day
Sunburn baby, It’s the price I pay
If I go out again I swear I’ll set a timer
But for now my DNA is full of thymine dimers
I hope I didn’t activate an oncogene
Why didn’t I wear sunscreen???