Thursday, August 16, 2012

Shark Week and Melanoma

If you’re a fan of the Discovery Channel, you know that it’s Shark Week.  Each night, the network showcases programming devoted to learning more about this most fascinating and horrific creature.  Perhaps the most intriguing fact I learned about sharks this week is that they don’t get melanoma.  Read the article here.

Researchers in New Zealand have discovered that sharks tan, but they are extremely resistant to melanoma.   This comes on the heels of a recent discovery that some fish in the Great Barrier Reef of Australia have developed melanoma.  UV radiation is suspected as the culprit for this fishy skin cancer. No one is really sure why sharks simply tan without developing melanoma, but it’s going to be studied further.  It was confirmed in another study that the darkening of shark skin is in fact a result of solar or UV exposure as “tan lines” were created by placing filters over the pectoral fins (as if sharks weren’t frightening enough without tan lines).  Mammals are the only other animals that tan.

So the next time you see a shark, thank it for its unexpected contribution to melanoma research.

On second thought…just run.

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