A recent study has demonstrated that UV damage continues on for hours after exposure to the sun. Once you come into the shade, you are not safe, it seems. There appears to be a cellular process which begins with the sun’s rays shining down upon your skin, and then keeps going for hours, even increasing the damage over time.
“When UV rays from sunlight—or a tanning bed—hit skin cells, the radiation damages genes, causing extra chemical bonds to form between the building blocks of DNA. Over time, these genetic changes accumulate and can make cells more prone to the skin cancer melanoma. But when radiology researcher Douglas Brash of Yale University tracked the timing of these genetic changes in isolated skin cells, he found that the extra bonds in the DNA didn’t stop forming when UV rays stopped. For more than 3 hours after cells were exposed to UV light, the DNA damage kept increasing.”
I find this troubling – especially the last sentence, where they found for more than 3 hours after exposure, the DNA damage kept increasing. Not continued on, but kept INCREASING! This says to me that more damage takes place when you come in after a few hours by the pool. Even while you are having dinner that night!
‘“What this means is that we’ve been underestimating the amount of DNA damage that people are getting from UV exposure,” Brash says.”
Yes, I will say that it does, then. Scary!
“He and his collaborators went on to show, in both mouse and human skin cells, that the lingering damaging effects of UV rays were dependent on melanin, the pigment that gives skin its color. High levels of melanin in dark-skinned people are typically associated with protection against melanoma, because the melanin absorbs UV energy, preventing it from causing DNA damage. But Brash found a second role for the pigment…When UV rays hit skin cells, they cause a cascading reaction that puts melanin in an excited state. For hours afterward, even if the cells are in darkness,” the energy from the excited melanin can keep damaging DNA,” the scientists report online today in Science.
So, now what?
“The research also suggests a new way to prevent melanoma. If we can divert the energy from the excited melanin before it gets transferred, we might be able to intervene,” Brash says.
Perhaps they can look at the fern Polypodium Leucotomos? The extract from this fern has been shown to cause our cells to be less sensitive to UV radiation. Since I began to Drink My Sunscreen every day, I’ve not had a new basal cell present in almost 6 years. What a relief to have internal and external resources in my fight against skin cancer – for hours after exposure even in the shade!