New findings break tanning misconceptions: 'There is no such thing as a safe tan'

July 23, 2012

A new study conducted by GW School of Medicine and Health Sciences (SMHS) researchers Edward C. De Fabo, Ph.D., Frances P. Noonan, Ph.D., and Anastas Popratiloff, M.D., Ph.D., has been published in the journal Nature Communications. Their paper, entitled "Melanoma induction by ultraviolet A but not ultraviolet B radiation requires melanin pigment," was published in June 2012.

"This is the first time that UV-induced melanin formation (tanning), traditionally thought to protect against skin cancer, is shown to be directly involved in melanoma formation in mammals," said De Fabo, who is professor emeritus at SMHS. "Skin melanoma is the most lethal of the skin cancers. Our study shows that we were able to discover this new role for melanin by cleanly separating UVA from UVB and exposing our experimental melanoma animal model with these separated wavebands using our unique UV light system designed and set up at GW. Dermatologists have been warning for years there is no such thing as a safe tan and this new data appears to confirm this."

Their research uses a mammalian model to investigate melanoma formed in response to precise spectrally defined and biologically relevant doses. They show that melanoma induction by ultraviolet A (320 nm) requires the presence of and is associated with oxidative within . In contrast, ultraviolet B radiation (280 nm) initiates melanoma in a pigment-independent manner associated with direct ultraviolet B DNA damage. The researchers identified two ultraviolet wavelength-dependent pathways for the induction of CMM and the study describes an unexpected and significant role for melanin within the melanocyte in melanoma genesis.

"Also new is our discovery that UV induction of melanin, as a melanoma-causing agent, works when skin is exposed only to UVA and not . This is especially important since melanoma formation has been correlated with sunbed use as many have shown. One possible reason for this is that tanning lamps are capable of emitting UVA radiation up to 12 times, or higher, the UVA intensity of sunlight at high noon. Melanin plus UVA is known to cause photo-oxidation, a suspected, but still to be proved, mechanism for the formation of melanoma as we describe in our study," De Fabo said.

Explore further: Human skin begins tanning in seconds, and here's how

More information: www.nature.com/ncomms/journal/ … full/ncomms1893.html

Related Stories

Human skin begins tanning in seconds, and here's how

November 3, 2011
We all know that human skin tans after days spent in the sun. That relatively slow process has known links to ultraviolet (and specifically UVB) exposure, which leads to tanning only after it damages the DNA of skin cells. ...

Resist temptation to tan, despite winter doldrums

December 30, 2011
(Medical Xpress) -- Don’t let winter’s lack of sunshine lure you into a tanning bed. 

Recommended for you

What does hair loss have to teach us about cancer metastasis?

December 15, 2017
Understanding how cancer cells are able to metastasize—migrate from the primary tumor to distant sites in the body—and developing therapies to inhibit this process are the focus of many laboratories around the country. ...

Cancer immunotherapy may work better in patients with specific genes

December 15, 2017
Cancer cells arise when DNA is mutated, and these cells should be recognized as "foreign" by the immune system. However, cancer cells have found ways to evade detection by the immune system.

Scientists pinpoint gene to blame for poorer survival rate in early-onset breast cancer patients

December 15, 2017
A new study led by scientists at the University of Southampton has found that inherited variation in a particular gene may be to blame for the lower survival rate of patients diagnosed with early-onset breast cancer.

Scientists unlock structure of mTOR, a key cancer cell signaling protein

December 14, 2017
Researchers in the Sloan Kettering Institute have solved the structure of an important signaling molecule in cancer cells. They used a new technology called cryo-EM to visualize the structure in three dimensions. The detailed ...

'Bet hedging' explains the efficacy of many combination cancer therapies

December 14, 2017
The efficacy of many FDA-approved cancer drug combinations is not due to synergistic interactions between drugs, but rather to a form of "bet hedging," according to a new study published by Harvard Medical School researchers ...

Liquid biopsy results differed substantially between two providers

December 14, 2017
Two Johns Hopkins prostate cancer researchers found significant disparities when they submitted identical patient samples to two different commercial liquid biopsy providers. Liquid biopsy is a new and noninvasive alternative ...

1 comment

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

PeterD
not rated yet Jul 24, 2012
If it was true that "There is no such thing as a safe tan." there would not be any humans on the planet. This is just another way to sell more cancer causing sun screen.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.