Skin Cancer Grows Out Of Control When Patients Are Exposed To Sunlight - New Report

Recent studies funded by the National Institute of Arthritis, Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases and a Veterans Affairs Merit Award report that ultraviolet light from the sun initiates an enzyme that aids skin cancer cells to grow and thrive.

The report also reveals a second way cancer hijacks regular body processes commented Dr. Wendy Bollag, who helped author the study published in “Oncogene.”

“We are living longer and getting a lot of UV radiation in the process,” Bollag said of increasing skin cancer rates.

Her work has shown that ultraviolet radiation is built up over time. The more UV rays the more active is the enzyme kinase D. Skin usually creates kinase D to control the growth required to replace cells that are forever flaking off.

“The skin has to continually divide to replace cells that get lost to the environment,” Bollag said. Even something as benign as wearing clothes prompts skin cell loss and the constant demand for new ones. “So, protein kinase D is good under normal conditions, when it’s regulated appropriately. But what can happen is it starts misbehaving,” Bollag added.

Kinase D activity can be positive or negative.

“If the damage caused by UV is relatively minor, so the cell can repair it, that’s good. You wouldn’t want to walk across the street, your skin gets hit by UV, all the cells die and your skin sloughs off,” Bollag said.

The negative side of overactive kinase D is that by enabling cells to easily divide it does not make the distinction between normal cells and cancer cells. Usually, these cancer cells would die on their own but with kinase D promoting cell rejuvenation the cancer grows out of control.

Bollag is a cell physiologist at the Medical College of Georgia and the Charlie Norwood Veterans Affairs Medical Center.

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