Recently, we discussed how UV rays can cause skin conditions including cancer. I was wondering if there were any ways to protect ourselves besides traditional ways such as using sun-screen. It turns out there might actually be another solution in the future.
Research has led to discoveries on what actually causes skin to tan or, to be more precise, what keeps light-skinned people from tanning. Previously, it was believed that UV radiation directly affected melanocyte cells, which are cells in the epidermis that produce pigment known as melanin. Actually, UV rays affect nearby cells called keratinocytes and those can affect the melanocyte cells through receptors that link the two. However, light-skinned people have faulty receptors and that keeps them from tanning.
This is interesting because now that they know more about what causes the skin to tan, they have also found a possible way to allow tanning in light-skinned people. In experiments with mice, scientists have been able to use a plant extract called forskolin to bypass the faulty receptors causing pigmentation.
The true significance behind this is that if scientists succeed in being able to give light-skinned people a natural tan, that will reduce the number of people that develop skin cancer since people with light skin are at higher risk. However, we won't see any of this for years since it's currently only been tested on mice meaning that much of the process is still only theoretical. It's a good start though.
Here's the link which goes further in depth if anyone's interested.