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What's Wrong with Late-Night Snacking?

Updated Jan 23, 2024
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If you haven't heard enough reasons nutritionists have offered for not snacking late at night, here's another: Your skin really doesn't like it.

According to a study by researchers from the University of Texas and the University of California, Irvine, if you eat at irregular times -- such as before going to bed -- an enzyme in the skin that protects against harmful sun exposure can lose its potency. This happens because many of the body's functions are controlled by a biological clock that expects a regular intake of food. Altering that schedule can impact normal functioning.

If the enzyme isn't working at full potency, the skin loses its protection against ultraviolet radiation, which has been shown to lead to everything from sunburn and skin aging to skin cancer.

"This finding is surprising," said Dr. Joseph S. Takahashi, chairman of neuroscience at the University of Texas's O'Donnell Institute. "I did not think the skin was paying attention to when we are eating."

The researchers stressed that because the study was done on mice, more work needs to be done to truly understand the correlation between diet and sun exposure.

Here comes the sun -- be careful:

  • Sunlight is dangerous even on cloudy days: Eighty percent of solar rays pass through mist, fog, and clouds.

  • To be effective, sunscreen needs to be reapplied approximately every two hours and after any heavy sweating.

  • Despite some claims, tanning beds are not safe and increase a person's risk of melanoma by 75 percent.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
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