Late Night Eating Linked to Skin Cancer

People who snack late at night could be at higher risk of skin cancer, according to a new study from the O’Donnell Brain Institute and UC Irvine.

A study in mice found that eating at abnormal times disrupted the skin’s biological clock, including the potency of an enzyme that protects against the sun’s harmful ultraviolet radiation in the daytime.

skin cancer snackingPeople’s snacking times might therefore affect their skin’s ability to protect them from the sun, said Dr Joseph S. Takahashi, Chairman of Neuroscience at UT Southwestern Medical Centre’s Peter O’Donnell Jr. Brain Institute.

Further research is still needed on humans, but the early findings suggest that people who eat late at night might be more vulnerable to sunburn and the sun’s long-term effects, such as ageing, sun damage and skin cancer.

The study showed that mice given food only during the day – an abnormal eating time for nocturnal animals – sustained more skin damage when exposed to ultraviolet B light during the day than during the night. This occurred because an enzyme that repairs UV-damaged skin (called xeroderma pigmentosum group A) shifted its cycle to be less active in the daytime.

Mice that are during their usual evening times did not show altered enzyme levels and were less susceptible to daytime UV rays.


UT Southwestern Medical Center. (2017, August 15). Eating habits affect skin’s protection against sun. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 4, 2017.

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