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Love the bright sunshine outside? Here’s how it gives you skin cancer

Dressing minimally in the “lovely, bright sunshine” might no more be a good idea as a new research has shown that full exposure to ultraviolet radiation of sun damages the DNA within our cells.

Researchers used human skin cell lines to test and considered the action spectrum of ultraviolet damage in cells, deduced from both the upper layer (dermis) and lower layer (epidermis) of the skin.

Incessant exposure to sunlight causes our skin to age because ultraviolet radiation consisting of UVA and UVB rays from the sun infiltrate the cells and multiplies the number of destroying free radicals, most significantly the reactive oxygen species. And it is this excess number of oxygen species that damage the DNA within our cells.

Scientists further said that over time the ceaseless exposure to sunrays can result in the growth of DNA damage, chiefly in mitochondria – the batteries of the cells. Mitochondria enhance the process of ageing and ruin the skin’s supportive fibers – collagen and elastin, resulting to wrinkles. And as per studies, the damage triggered by reactive oxygen species may instigate and aggravate the development of skin cancers.

Mark Birch-Machin who is the Professor of Molecular Dermatology at Newcastle University said that due to their success in analyzing the “full spectrum of UVA and UVB induced sunburnt DNA damage in the batteries of human cells” it serves as “an invaluable tool for the cosmetic and pharmaceutical industries and for the anti-ageing studies.”

Dr.Jennifer Latimer who is a CASE PhD student at Newcastle University and a member of the research said, “It is satisfying to think that four years of scientific research has resulted in an outcome that is potentially beneficial, not only to the scientific community but also to industry and the general public.”

Funded by the University Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council, the study was published today in the Journal of Investigative Dermatology.

Doctors suggest to not completely shun yourself from sunlight because it contains Vitamin D that is good for the body. In a 2007 study by researchers from the Moores Cancer Center at the University of California, San Diego; they estimated that 250,000 cases of colorectal cancer and 350,000 cases of breast cancer could be prevented globally by boosting the intake of Vitamin D3 – available through diet, supplements and exposure of the skin to sunlight.

Cedric F. Garland, who is a cancer specialist at Moores and the co-author of the study, said, “For the first time, we are saying that 600,000 cases of breast and colorectal cancer could be prevented each year worldwide, including nearly 150,000 in the United States alone.”

The research collected the data from examinations of serum vitamin D levels during winter season from 15 countries. It was the first such study to see the satellite measurements of sunshine and cloudy weather in countries where actual blood serum levels of vitamin D3 had also been established. The data was then pertained to 177 countries to evaluate the average serum level of vitamin D in people living there and the paper was published in the August edition of the journal, Nutrition Reviews.


Photo Credit: Dipankan001

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