It’s common knowledge that your eating habits affect your health, hence we all try and make the effort to eat healthier when possible (keyword, try). However, it turns out that perhaps your diet could be causing, ahem, external problems as well. A recent study from UC Irvine and the O’Donnell Brain Institute at UT Southwestern Medical Center suggests that eating when you are usually asleep can make your skin more vulnerable to sunburn.
Researchers tested the theory on groups of mice, each of which were given a specific feeding schedule, some normal and some abnormal. There were then exposed to ultraviolet B rays. The groups that ate during the day (mice are usually nocturnal) experienced more sun damage.
It turns out that when you randomly eat late at night, your body gets confused about when it’s supposed to produce a particular enzyme — XPA — that repairs damage from UV radiation. In the mice that ate abnormally, their bodies started to produce less XPA during the day. The mice that only ate at night didn’t show any signs of an altered XPA cycle.
Take note, however, that this study was conducted on mice, not on humans, so more research needs to be conducted. Nevertheless, Dr. Joseph S. Takahashi of the Brain Institute told Science Daily eating late at night may make people more vulnerable to long-term effects like skin cancer.
“This finding is surprising. I did not think the skin was paying attention to when we are eating,” Takahashi said. He also noted that if you have a normal eating schedule, it’s likely “you will be better protected from UV during the daytime.” Ah, finally a plausible explanation for my recent horrid sunburn experience.