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The Science of Tanning

There's a lot of controversy surrounding tanning. Some people say a little sun is good for you (it's a source of vitamin D, you know), while others say you should stay in the shade to avoid skin cancer. But how many people really know what's going on in your skin to make you turn brown? Get the good on tanning here!

What is a Tan?

Melanocytes are special skin cells that produce melanin (skin pigment) when they are exposed to ultraviolet light in sunlight. The pigment absorbs UV radiation in sunlight, so it helps to protect skin cells from UV damage. Your body actually produces two kinds of pigmant. One is called eumelanin and it is responsible for the golden brown color we normally associate with tanning. Another pigment is called phaeomelanin and it produces a red color. Redheads and blondes produce more phaeomelanin and less eumelanin, which is why they don't tan as well.

How Does Your Body Know It's Sunny Out?

Sunlight (or UV light from tanning beds) affects the pituitary gland (a gland at the base of the brain that secretes hormones) which then produces MSH (melanocyte-stimulating hormone). This hormone flows through the bloodstream to the melanocytes, which makes them able to produce more melanin. Since the pituitary gland is tied into the optic nerve, (the nerve in your eyes that lets you sense light), wearing sunglasses makes you tan less. Weird.

Tanning and Race

Different races tan differently (and some don't tan at all). Caucasians (white people) and other lighter skinned races tan the way explained above. People of darker races produce melanin continuously (without having to go in the sun), which means their skin is always pigmented (dark) to varying degrees. People of dark races are much less likely to get skin cancer because their cells are constantly protecting them from UV radiation.

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blissfulignorance482
Blank page I am like the blank useless page at the back of a book, hiding behind all that's meaningful, waiting to be ripped out and misused, the page that has no meaning, the page that gets burnt and drawn on, used as a thing to pass the time by, as in itself is useless, simply a mistake. you see the only thing in which this page has to provide to this world is of a story, showing sadness and disappointment, hatred and regret. all things come to an end, this page merely fades slowly as it burns with its pain and sorrow, until that page has departed. overall the "book" is better off without the useless blank pages, like me.
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