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UV FoundationThe Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, the principal teaching affiliate of the Harvard Medical School, recently reported ground breaking research which indicates that tanning may indeed protect against melanoma skin cancer.

Lead researchers have been studying a gene called p53, also known as the "master watchman of the genome". This gene has long been known to act as a tumor suppressor that protects DNA from cancer-causing damage. Specifically, p53 regulates cell lifespan and growth, which ensures that cells do not mutate or multiply uncontrollably as occurs in cancerous cells. Researchers have found that p53 also plays a significant role in the tanning process by initiating a chain of events that culminates in the production of melanin, or dark pigmentation. This tan then in turn protects skin from sun damage and, according to the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, "can reduce one's risk of melanoma. "In fact, the "number one risk factor for melanoma is an inability to tan," notes David E. Fisher MD, PhD, director of the Melanoma Program at Dana-Farber and senior author of this study. Those who tan easily or have dark skin pigmentation have the lowest incidence of melanoma.

Overwhelming evidence suggests that genetics plays the biggest role in determining an individual's risk for melanoma. This new research shows that the natural biological process of tanning can further protect our skin from overexposure and therefore reduce our chances of developing this deadly disease. For more information about this study please visit the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute's website at:

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