Skin Includes Built-In Damage Protection
Ultraviolet radiation that tans skin can also cause skin cancer, right? Right, but the skin also produces a cancer fighter to come to the rescue, reported EurekAlert. Scientists at the Dana-Farber cancer institute detected a known cancer fighter named p53 that is produced right under the skin. Their results, published in Cell (see summary on EurekAlert) show that a “master regulator” of the suntan response that helps provide protection from skin cancer. This protein, also called the “guardian of the genome,” was linked to the tanning response, the researchers found. The production of melanin by tanning provides additional protection from UV damage.
Surprisingly, the system is linked into the endorphin response: the pleasurable sensation of lying in the sun. “There is even the possibility that p53 protects against skin damage in a second – and previously unsuspected – way,” the article states. “The protein not only causes skin to tan in response to sunlight, it may also underlie people’s desire to spend time in the sun.”
With moderation (and caution related to skin type and latitude), then, it appears that sensible exposure to sunlight is a good thing – with some protection built in.
Update 03/18/2007: An “SOS” signal and response under the skin was described by researchers U of North Carolina School of Medicine, reports EurekAlert. Special proteins slow down DNA replication under a UV barrage to give time for the repair team to work (07/26/2002, 01/04/2002).
Humans were created for the outdoors. They only build shelters of necessity for protection from the ravages of a fallen world. When you visualize an Eden-like environment, the first parents had a waterproof, sun-protected, heat-adapting covering of skin that could thrive in the original creation (03/02/2007). A cursed world presented new challenges that make that way of existence only marginally tolerable. Still, enough of our original physiology remains to make a moderate walk or rest under a gentle sun (03/07/2007) a healthful (11/21/2006) and wonderful thing. “Light is sweet, and it pleases the eyes to see the sun,” said Solomon (Ecclesiastes 11:7). Get the dosage that is appropriate for you.