Late-night snacking could be damaging your skin

a woman having a late night snack

Do you get the midnight munchies? If so, new research suggests you might want to take extra care when sunbathing: eating late at night could make your skin more vulnerable to sun damage.

According to researchers, mice that were fed during the day rather than at night – which is an abnormal eating pattern for the rodents – experienced greater skin damage as a result of exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation, compared with mice fed at normal times.

Study co-author Dr. Joseph S. Takahashi, of the Department of Neuroscience at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas, and colleagues report that the abnormal eating times altered the circadian rhythm in the skin of the mice, reducing the daytime activity of a skin-protecting enzyme.

The findings were recently published in the journal Cell Reports.

Whether from the sun or tanning beds, UV rays damage the DNA in skin cells, making UV exposure a major risk factor for sunburn, skin aging, and skin cancer.

UVA rays – which account for up to 95 percent of UV rays that reach the Earth’s surface – penetrate the deeper layers of skin. They are a key cause of skin aging, and they also play a role in skin cancer.

UVB rays cause most damage to the outer skin layers, and they are the main cause of sunburn and skin cancer.

Wearing sun-protective clothing and sunscreen are two of the best ways to protect our skin against the damaging effects of UV radiation. The new study from Dr. Takahashi and colleagues, however, suggests that adhering to a normal eating pattern may also help.

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