It is sunny outside and I have to resist the urge to sit in the sun again. Instead I decided to do a bit of research on the computer (always been one of my favorite geeky pastimes).
So I Googled "inability to tan" and found this little gem from Scientific American:
"A powerful protein known as p53 has long been considered the master regulator of the genome because of its amazing ability to repair damaged DNA. Now scientists at Harvard's Dana-Farber Cancer Institute have discovered that p53 not only mends genetic material but also kicks off the chemical cascade that results in tanning."(1)Now this explains a few things. If p53 isn't working properly in CFSers then we can neither tan nor repair our DNA which would result in the well documented mitochondrial damage (2) and the general inability of our bodies to repair themselves. Upon further investigation into protein p53 apparently it also regulates the growth of tumors and cancers. I seem to remember something I read a long time ago mentioning that CFS patients were at higher risk for cancer (which makes sense if there is a problem with p53) but now I can't find any documentation to back this up.
I can't believe that this connection hasn't been discussed in the CFS literature. I've done a little bit of searching but nothing like a proper extensive lit search that is required. I'll keep looking since this has piqued my curiosity.
The one and only paper I found in PubMed was in regard to the use of resveratrol in mice that had induced CFS. An unspecified dose was fed to the CFS mice which increased activity levels by 20%, increased the physical size of the hippocampus (which apparently shrinks in CFS patients) and altered the activity of p53. (3) I'm not a biochemist so much of this article is Greek to me but again I'm working on interpreting it. While I'm tempted to run out and purchase some resveratrol to add to my daily supplement list, this study was done in mice, it hasn't been replicated in humans, other research into resveratrol indicates that it isn't easily assimilated into the human body.
MIT has published an excellent article that has a more balanced review of resveratrol, "The Longevity Pill". (4) A company in Cambridge has discovered a more powerful compound but they aren't being forthcoming with details. They do have a long list of publications but they are way above my head and they are concentrating on longevity rather than CFS. (5) I'm currently wading through the list of articles and trying to make sense of the information while taking a crash course in molecular biology. I'll post again later when I have figured it out and can explain it in layman's terms.
So for now, no more extended sunbathing. One hour of sun and then I have to move to shade. Apparently since my skin can't tan it also can't protect itself from UV damage and I have a heightened risk for skin cancer from prolonged sun exposure. I've picked one hour based on Stephnie Seneff's work. (6,7) I'm also going to look into adding resveratrol to my supplements. While I've figured out the no tanning thing, the crash reaction is still a mystery to me.