Food

Midnight snacking might give you a sunburn, according to study

The summer is full of all kinds of routine-breaking behavior, like midnight snacks and spending hours sunbathing on the beach. But if that's what your daily schedule has started to look like lately, it might be time to cover up and quit the chips!

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According to Science Daily, a new study reveals a connection between eating at off-hours and earning yourself a surprise sunburn the next day.

Researchers from UT Southwestern Medical Center and UC Irvine say that when you ask the body to start digesting food at hours when it's normally doing the work of repair and rebuilding (that is, when you sleep), you disrupt "the biological clock of the skin," as Science Daily calls it. That includes the ability of an enzyme to protect you against the sun's ultraviolet radiation.

"This finding is surprising. I did not think the skin was paying attention to when we are eating," Dr. Joseph S. Takahashi, chairman of neuroscience at UT Southwestern Medical Center's Peter O'Donnell Jr. Brain Institute, told Science Daily.

Of course, as with many studies the findings are preliminary — and in this case the test subjects were mice, who were fed once during the day and then exposed to ultraviolet B rays, which caused more skin damage than expected.

"It's hard to translate these findings to humans at this point," said Dr. Andersen, Professor of Biological Chemistry. "But it's fascinating to me that the skin would be sensitive to the timing of food intake."

It's unclear whether the rodents were provided bikinis and swim trunks, though.

"It is likely that if you have a normal eating schedule, then you will be better protected from UV during the daytime," said Dr. Takahashi. "If you have an abnormal eating schedule, that could cause a harmful shift in your skin clock, like it did in the mouse."

Further investigations will be done, but for now it might be a good idea to pick your bad-habit battles: munching at midnight or sunning at noon. But either way, make sure to wear sunscreen!

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