Tanning in the Morning Might be less Risky for Skin Cancer

Kathleen Blanchard's picture
Tanning in the morning might pose less risk for skin cancer
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Tanning beds and sunshine soaked up in the morning may be less harmful to the skin

If you want to save your skin, new mouse research suggests tanning in the morning may be less risky for skin damage and skin cancer than soaking up the sun or tanning bed rays in the afternoon.

In their investigaton, researchers at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill studied mice, whose Circadian rhythm is the opposite of humans.

The researchers explain humans would be protected from harmful sun rays at a time when mice are most susceptible.

They found mice exposed to UV tanning rays in the morning had a 500 percent higher chance of getting skin cancer, compared to the same amount of afternoon exposure, indicating the opposite would be true for humans.

Senior study author Aziz Sancar, M.D., PhD, said, the study isn’t recommending morning tanning, but the study does suggest “…restricting sunbathing or visits to the tanning booth to morning hours would reduce the risk of skin cancer in humans.”

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The researchers want to do more studies on humans before they make any recommendations about morning tanning.

The study authors say the mice developed skin cancer much faster when the skin’s repair activity was at its lowest. They irradiated mice at 4am and 4pm then observed how quickly skin cancer developed.

Apparently, for humans, the skin repairs itself best in the morning – for mice, the opposite occurs. To confirm, the scientists are planning on measuring the DNA repair rate in human volunteers to find out if tanning in the morning really is less risky for skin cancer.

Sancar discovered a protein that repairs the skin after exposure to UV radiation, called XPA, has variable activity throughout the day.

Following the discovery, the researchers wanted to see if the XPA protein also influenced skin cancer development.

The study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, suggests morning tanning may be less harmful to the skin. It’s important to cover with clothing or sunscreen when outdoors and avoid tanning beds altogether.

Image credit: Moreguefile

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