Scientists at Yale University in the US have been researching the different possible ways in which sunlight damages the skin, and have discovered some new information. Rather than this damage taking place immediately during exposure, sunlight actually continues to keep damaging the skin for hours after the initial exposure. This leads to even higher risks of cancer.

The scientists have discovered that the pigment melanin, which was previously thought to protect the skin, is actually what causes the damage. The melanin in your skin, which changes colour as your skin becomes more tanned, absorbs the radiation released from the sunlight. It has only just been discovered that once the melanin has absorbed all this radiation, it causes a series of chemical reactions. These chemical reactions are what damages the DNA.

The new research reinforces all of the current advice when it comes to skin safety in the sun, as well as wearing a good sunscreen. It is advised that a sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 30 should be used whenever there is exposure to sunlight, no matter how minimal. It should also have good UVA protection.

These new discoveries will enable more effective sunscreens to be developed. Since there is a long stretch of time in between actual exposure and DNA damage, there are now new possibilities when it comes to preventing the damage from happening. Nevertheless, these sunscreens will not be available for some time, and in the meantime, it is crucial that the public follows advise on keeping your skin safe from sunlight damage.

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