The early bird gets the worm—and may avoid skin cancer. Because a new mouse study suggests that, for humans, tanning in the mornings may be less likely to permanently damage DNA and cause skin cancer.
A mouse’s levels of the DNA-repairing protein XPA are different from ours—they peak in the morning and bottom out in the evening. Researchers exposed mice to UV radiation when their XPA was at its minimum level, around 4 a.m., and others to the same rays around 4 P.M., when XPA levels peaked.
Mice who tanned while low on the repair protein developed skin cancer faster and five times more frequently than their evening-tanning counterparts. The study is in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. [Shobhan Gaddameedhi et al, Control of skin cancer by the circadian rhythm]
Unlike mice, humans are not nocturnal, so their XPA levels rise and fall at different times. In people, XPA is at prime DNA-repairing levels in the morning, which thus looks the safest time for UV exposure. So if you want to avoid skin cancer, probably go to the tanning salon early—or better yet, don’t go at all.
[The above text is a transcript of this podcast.]