Late Night Munchies Might Get You Burned (By the Sun)

New research shows that skin and stomach really know how to chat.

By Ethan L. Johns
August 18, 2017

August 18, 2017 — It’s late, and you’re still up watching episodes of Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives. Why? You have literally no idea. But one thing you do know is that you are hungry for a little sumpin’ sumpin’. You might want to brush your teeth and forget about it, however, because new research is giving cause to reconsider that fourth meal. Your ramen noodle burrito might just come back to burn you in the morning.

A joint study from UT Southwestern Medical Center’s O’Donnell Brain Institute and UC Irvine, published at the beginning of August (just in time for the end of beach season!) used mice to test the effects of eating patterns on the skin’s ability to protect itself from the sun. The mice that were fed during the day were more susceptible to UV rays (mice are nocturnal creatures) than those that were fed at normal nighttime hours. Why? A enzyme that acts to repair damaged skin—called xeroderma pigmentosum group A, or XPA—became less active during the daytime. In human terms, Dr. Joseph S. Takahashi says, “If you have an abnormal eating schedule, that could cause a harmful shift in your skin clock, like it did in the mouse.”

So no, it is not guaranteed that human skin reacts the same way to late-night binge-eating; more research is needed to give a definitive answer. But if you did opt for that burrito the night before your beach day, be safe and don’t forget the SPF 30.

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About Ethan L. Johns

Ethan is the Food News Writer at Genius Kitchen. An expert on the Parisian bistrot, he likes bitters and salted butters, and is no fan of dessert unless it's made with fruit. His hobbies include reading up on the history of borscht and attempting to roll perfect couscous by hand. Twits & Instagram @EthanLJohns