Tanning Gene

PTCHD2 mediates Sun Addiction

Now I’m no genetic fatalist — I have absolute faith in human potential not to mention epigenetics but knowing there is a genetic predisposition to tanning is very interesting.

A new Yale-VA study investigated possible genetic links to tanning dependence — addiction to tanning despite obvious negative consequences. They found a statistically significant difference between the groups with respect to their odds of having certain variants of a gene called PTCHD2.

Now the scientist I defer to most in skin cancer research- Dr. David Fisher feels there could very well be other genes involved in tanning dependence and I personally like his study that revealed exposing mice to a daily dose of UV light boosted the animals’ blood levels of beta-endorphins — “feel-good” hormones that act on the same brain pathways as opiate drugs, like heroin and morphine. UV exposure is rewarding to the brain. See Sun Addiction is Real.

Now as interesting as these genetic studies are, I am frankly less worried about extreme dependence and am more worried about mass ignorance — melanoma rates have tripled since 1975 when the wisdom of sunscreen has been widely shared — it’s not for me to speculate but I feel very strongly this is related to reckless sun behaviour under the false assumption that a smattering of sunscreen shields one against the sun.

There is an even more provocative study about the activation of gene-expression by UV radiation — they have concretely discovered that UVB irradiation can activate the expression of proteins including cytokines (remember — we want to reduce these bad boys as they are pro-inflammatory and awe reduces cytokines — see Stendhal Skindrome)

So there you have it — directly, indirectly, genetically and epigenetically UV radiation is the worst and you can’t responsibly experiment with humans so the sooner one gets wise to suncare, frankly the better.

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