Sunscreen At Night Could Prevent Skin Cancer [Study]

Wearing sunscreen at night probably isn’t your first move in the fight to prevent skin cancer, but as spring and summer sneak into your daily routine, you may want to give it a try.

That’s because dermatologists from Yale University have found that melanin, the very thing that protects your skin from harmful UV rays during the daytime, later transfers the rays to your DNA at night.

This DNA damage can occur hours after sunbathing, thus facilitating the need for a special nighttime sunscreen that the Yale team would like to develop.

The energy transfer from skin to DNA can be blocked by chemicals that the researchers would use in developing a sunscreen wearable at night.

Douglas Brash, a professor and researcher at Yale, explains his thoughts in a new article on the Daily Mail.

“Here you have a different situation where what you want to do is add something after you leave the beach or tanning bed that protects you for several hours after…. You could imagine designing chemicals that dissipate that energy before it has a chance to get to the DNA…. There are chemicals like that that already exist and we used some of those as tools in the research, but you could imagine getting better ones that are practical to use in the skin.”

Reportedly, the UV light can cause a cyclobutane dimer to form in the DNA. This is a ring-shaped structure that “prevents the genetic code from being read properly and leads to faults in the functioning of the cells, leading to them becoming cancerous.”

Brash notes that melanocytes, or cells that make the pigment that protects your skin, can also cause harm.

“When sun hits your skin normally what happens is that it makes damage to your DNA in a millionth of a millionth of a second. In melanocytes, which are the cells that make the pigment that is protecting your skin, that is not all that is going on. You are getting the same kinds of DNA damage in your skin for hours after the exposure has ended. What is surprising is that melanin is actually doing things that can cause cancer as well.”

Details from the full study can be found in the journal Science.

What do you think about the idea of wearing a special sunscreen at night to protect from skin cancer? Would you do it, or is this just a ploy to push a new product? Sound off in the comments section.

[Image via ShutterStock]