In the future, a tan may be the best defense against skin cancer.
Sounds far fetched, but it's the basis of scientific research.
Scientists at Dana Farber Cancer Institute have evidence suggesting that the tanning process involves more than just the skin's response to DNA damage by UV rays.
They've also uncovered a missing link needed to produce tans in people with fair skin.
The scientists were able to create tans in mice, bred by applying a cream that flipped the tanning machinery switch in their skin cells.
The scientists found, unlike self tanners that just produce color, the cream induced tan actually protected the animal's skin from UV damage, better than sunscreen.
However, Cancer Researcher David Fisher, MD, Ph.D. at the Dana Farber Cancer Institute says, "For any mice that are trying to get a tan, we've got the answer. We're confident of that, but this is definitely not for humans."
Researchers say the next step is to test the cream on people to see if it triggers the same protective tanning effect.