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Sharks Tan But Don’t Get Skin Cancer

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Here’s another reason why sharks are amazing creatures: They can tan easily, yet do not get skin cancer. According to Discovery News, sharks’ skin turns from dark brown to black as melanin increases in response to radiation.

Other fish who tan too much can get skin cancer, but sharks? They just get to keep working on their tans, worry-free. Scientists believe that they could hold the answer to preventing skin disease in humans.

“As far as I’m aware, sharks appear very robust to skin damage and disease. There have been a lot of attempts to induce melanomas in sharks to no effect,” said Michael Sweet, the lead author of a study about shark tanning.

In another study, Christopher Lowe from the CSULB Sharklab at California State University Long Beach noticed the color change in young scalloped hammerhead sharks in Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii. Typically, these creatures spend most of their time at the bottom of the bay, but when in shallower water, their skin turned from light tan to dark brown/black. The scientists noticed changes in melanin densities, but not in growths or lesions associated with skin cancer.

Another study is being conducted by Phanat Kittiphattanabawon of Sonkla University. Kittiphattanabawon and his team analyzed blacktip sharks. They found that antioxidant properties of the shark’s skin were immense. It kept cooked pork fat from turning rancid.

Scientists worldwide home to discover the biochemical secrets of shark skin so that it may be replicated to help humans fight off skin diseases.

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