Advertisement

How does the sun damage the DNA of a cell?

Dr. Ellen Marmur, MD
Dermatology

A photon (the sun's laser beam) zaps through the cell membrane and the cytoplasm, through the nuclear membrane (the safe, womblike center of the cell), and hits the DNA. Imagine DNA as being like two pieces of spaghetti laid parallel, with crosshatches all the way along like a ladder, then rolled up and twisted like an intricately knotted cuff link. When a photon burns a hole into the DNA knot, it starts to unravel and the two sides of the ladder begin opening up. The immune system immediately sends out enzymes to fix the problem. (Enzymes are proteins that act as workers in the body, fixing damage by causing chemical reactions.) One enzyme comes in and gobbles up the damaged portion; then it creates a new DNA rung to fix that ladder. Another enzyme double-checks it, another seals it all together, and another wraps it up into a nice, perfect knot again. All these chemical reactions done to reconstruct damaged DNA give off toxic oxygen by-products, or free radicals.

Simple Skin Beauty: Every Woman's Guide to a Lifetime of Healthy, Gorgeous Skin

More About this Book

Simple Skin Beauty: Every Woman's Guide to a Lifetime of Healthy, Gorgeous Skin

What if a leading dermatologist just happened to be your best friend and you could ask her anything? DR. ELLEN MARMUR, a world-renowned New York City dermatologist, answers all your questions with...

Continue Learning about Genetic Disorders and Birth Defects

Stem Cells, Worth the Wait
Stem Cells, Worth the Wait
Headlines call it a miracle: In the well-respected medical journal, The Lancet, Canadian researchers reported that 23 people with debilitating multipl...
Read More
What is Turcot syndrome?
Dr. Vincent T DeVita JrDr. Vincent T DeVita Jr
Turcot syndrome is a rare inherited condition in which people are at increased risk of adenomatous p...
More Answers
How does cystic fibrosis (CF) affect the lungs?
Jumo HealthJumo Health
With cystic fibrosis (CF), thick and sticky mucus in the lungs means that they are unable to work li...
More Answers
What Happens During Genetic Counseling for Genetic Disorders?
What Happens During Genetic Counseling for Genetic Disorders?

Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.