Different parts of the body respond differently to sun-tan


One more lovely summer weekend is almost to its completion and I hope you were able to go for your planned sun-tanning outing.  The tan color comes from the skin’s production of melanin, a defence that blocks the skin from absorbing too much harmful ultraviolet (UVB) radiation.  A study conducted by the University of Edinburgh team revealed that different parts of the body do not have similar ability to tan.  In fact, some parts of the body are much harder to tan than other parts like buttocks.  Furthermore, scientist acknowledged that the parts of the body, which are hard to tan, would require more sun protection against cancer.

About the study
The scientist were looking for answer to the question as to why susceptibility to cancer like melanoma is more for certain parts of the body even though all are exposed to harmful UVB sun rays. The study included:

  • 100 volunteers that were asked to undergo a sun lamp to see how easily they tanned
  • the skin of back and buttock were analyzed for each person, after six tanning sessions
  • precise depth of tan was measured by scientists by using analytical instruments

Results of the study
The study found that

  • Buttocks were particularly resistant to tanning, staying whiter than backs despite the same exposure.
  • Scientist acknowledged that resistance to tan does not indicate that it is resistant to sun’s harmful rays

Statements from the lead researchers:
Professor Jonathan Rees, lead of the research funded by the Medical Research Council, said:

  • One of the real puzzles about melanoma is why the numbers of tumors differ so much depending on body site.
  • Our work shows that in one sense we are all made up of...

    different units of skin, which responds differently to sunshine, and which all may afford different degrees of protection against the harmful effects of sunshine.

Dr Jodie Moffat, health information manager at Cancer Research UK, said:

  • This study is interesting because it suggests that different parts of the body respond differently to UVB – one of the types of radiation given off by the sun.
  • Tanning is a sign that your skin has already been damaged by UV and is your body’s way of trying to limit any further damage.
  • For people with fair skin, freckles or lots of moles, tanning is very difficult without burning, and they should take extra care to protect their skin from sunburn.

It is evident from the study that skin type differs depending upon the part of the body and hence the response to sun tan is different.  It is hypothesized that this differential response may lead to differential susceptibility of skin cancer.  I think scientists need more data linking the skin cancers to different types of body and hence resistance to UV damage.  If you are fan of sun tanning, do talk to your doctor regarding this differential tanning and the required precautions.

Healthy Tanning!

Source: bbc.co.uk


One Response

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