British scientist believe there may be a way to create a “sunscreen pill.” The inspiration behind their potential product is a sea organism that produces it’s own sunscreen.
Coral is a non-moving sea organism. Though they are unable to move around, they still need a source of energy just like every other living organism. Therefore, algae grows inside the coral’s tissue to provide them with nourishment. The algae gets its energy not from another organism, but from the sun. For that reason, coral must live in shallow water, where the sun’s energy can reach the algae. This allows both the algae and the coral to receive the energy they need.
The fun doesn’t end there, though. Coral doesn’t need sunlight for energy, but it is still exposed to the sun’s harmful UV rays. Therefore, coral is susceptible to sunburn, just like humans. Since it still need to stay near the water’s surface, coral is somewhat stuck between a rock and a hard place. That is, it would be if it didn’t produce its own sunscreen. Out of need for both nourishment and protection, coral received a sun-blocking gift from nature that helps it to survive.
Returning to humans, the aforementioned scientists believe they can recreate the coral sunscreen in test tubes. Since coral is endangered, they can only take so much of the actual natural sunscreen. Ultimately, the scientists hope to make the sunscreen beneficial through consuming. The idea behind this comes from fish. Small fish eat the sunscreen compounds from algae, granting them the sun protection. These small fish are eaten by larger fish, passing the protection to the larger fish. The sunscreen is passed through the food chain of fish, so why can’t it be passed on to us as well?
Like with the DRACO drug I mentioned a while back, I am enthusiastic about the potential of this “sunscreen pill” research. The risk seems lower with the potential product as well. Where DRACO could cause your body’s cells to self-destruct, I doubt many negatives could come from consuming some natural coral products. In fact, it might provide you with some nutrition…or something. I’m no scientist, but the risk seems a lot lower. At the same time, how useful would sunscreen pills really be? They would save you some time when you want to run out to the beach, but would it be worth it? I suppose it depends on how long the effects would last compared to conventional sunscreen. Only time will tell.
Keep your ears open; someday you may be able to eat some sunscreen. I mean, you could do that now, but it probably wouldn’t be the best idea. Yeah, don’t do that.
How would you like to be able to eat your sunscreen?