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Wednesday
May252011

Beach Vacation 2k11 > Tanning Bed 2k11

Every year Sarah & I go to Mexico Beach, FL (it’s on the pan-handle, a little too close to Panama City Beach) with a select group of our undergraduate friends, and mountains of work will not stop us from attending this year.

What better way to prepare for our beach vacay than to remind ourselves of why we put on sunscreen? Also, I want to go over why it’s better to tan outside rather than inside a tanning bed. I remember being told that tanning beds were evil, and that the sun wasn’t nearly as bad - we’re usually told things when we’re younger that we just believe, but this actually has very interesting science behind it!

UV radiation & DNA

UV-B radiation (280-320nm) in sunlight & tanning lights can cause distortions in the DNA double helix that interfere with proper replication and transcription. Exposure to UV light causes adjacent cytosine (C) and thymine (T) bases to cross-link (pic right, down, via). This cross-link forms a pyrimidine dimer and disrupts the normal base pairing and creates a “bulge” in the DNA (pic left, via). Because these dimers cannot effectively base pair with other nucleotides they can cause DNA polymerase (needed for replication & transcription) to slow down or completely stop – stalling cellular life. “Any living tissue, even one in which cell division does not occur, has to be able to either avoid or repair UV-induced damage if it is to survive”.

DNA repair systems

Thankfully, our DNA has repair enzymes that save us from most things harmful. Photolyases come to the rescue; these are photoreactive DNA repair enzymes that require visible light for activation. Photolyases have a high affinity to pyrimidine dimers and bind to the “bulges” and break the DNA. Without the enzymatic activity of the photoreactive enzymes *cough* in a tanning bed *cough* it is much more difficult to repair the UV-B induced DNA damage.

After the initial break of the DNA, exonucleases excise the pyrimidine dimer (pic below, via). The action of cutting out damaged DNA happens frequently in DNA damage and is quickly repaired by DNA polymerase, which fills in the gap by synthesizing new DNA - using the bottom, intact strand as a template. After this, DNA ligase seals the remaining gap and joins old and new DNA.

Memorial Break Vacay Lesson #1: Wear sunscreen, this can all be avoided.

Memorial Break Vacay Lesson #2: Don’t go to tanning beds. Aside from the above point, there’s nothing more unattractive than an over-tanned raisin.

ResearchBlogging.org
Anne Bagg Britt (1995). Repair of DNA Damage Induced by Ultraviolet Radiation Plant Physiologyq, 108, 891-896

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Reader Comments (3)

just enjoy the sun..the real one far better than the artificial...

June 16, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterBali villas

Sun bathing is definitely much better than lying on a tanning bed. Natural heat of the sun provides us with Vitamin D, which is essential for repair of our skin cells.

February 2, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterdiamond peel

I totally agree with this, I am using tan bed from past some years because I don’t get time for sun bath, but in the vacations I take only sun tan and believe me it turns out superb. It never gives you irritation and rash or hives, and yes makes me more attractive. Apart from this I also use tanorganic natural tanning that is far better option than tan beds, because it provides you similar effects as sun.

June 11, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJonathan Mayor

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