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Sun rays could be the remedy to help tumor-afflicted sea turtles recover, New Atlas reported.
Green sea turtles are prone to fibropapillomatosis, a disease characterized by tumors growing on various parts of the body and associated with the herpes virus. Even so, scientists have warned that such infections have been increasing due to marine pollution.
The tumors can be surgically removed but the turtles don’t always survive the procedure. When they do, the tumors grow back.
In their study, researchers studied the blood samples of green sea turtles with and without signs of fibropapillomatosis. They found that the creatures with the disease had lower levels of vitamin D, which could affect their recovery.
Because the ultraviolet (UV) spectrum of sunlight helps produce vitamin D in the body, the team tested whether increasing that exposure would help the reptiles.
In their experiment, they placed turtles recovering from surgery in tanks with differing levels of sunlight exposure for periods of up to six months. Scientists then analyzed the animals’ blood and found that higher UV led to increased levels of the vitamin.
But most importantly, the marine creatures also experienced less regrowth of tumors than turtles that got less sunlight.
While the findings are promising, the authors cautioned that excessive UV exposure has its own risks, including skin cancer.
Nonetheless, the study might lead to better outcomes for the wild turtles being treated for fibropapillomatosis.