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How many skin cells get damaged when we first get out of bed? How long before they die? Does any cell ever [avoid being] eaten? How do skin cells get their food to stay alive? Do skin cancer cells live longer than regular cells?
Question Date: 2000-04-11
Answer 1:

wow, GREAT QUESTION! But, you guys found a question that we can't answer! I've got some hints, though. I think the person who would know the most about this would be a medical doctor. Have you heard of the website www.webmd.com ? They have an ask a doctor site, and I bet if you told them that you were Jr. high kids who wanted to know, they'd send you an answer. When you do get an answer, could you let us know? that way, you'll be teaching us university professors and students as well. thanks!

Answer 2:

Skin cells are one ofjust a few kinds of cells in your body that are constantly being made and replaced. Hair, a special kind of skin cell is also a good example of this. All day and all night, you are "losing" dead skin cells and they are being replaced by new ones. So, when you get out of bed, you are not really causing any damage, but you might "shake off" a few extra cells! Because of the constant "replacement" it is unusual for a cell to "be missed." Now, if you have a wound, you notice it because now some cells are being missed. A scar forms if the wound is so great that the skin cells just can't regenerate--rather than risk infection or further damage, scar tissue forms. Just like most cells in your body, skin cells are nourished by the nutrients carried in the blood. Your skin is in layers. Deep down is the "new cells" layer, which is being nourished by being in close contact with capillaries. The closer to the surface, the "older" the cell is. Once it gets to be a certain age, it is considered "differentiated" and has a defined life span. At this point, it no longer is nourished actively. And yes, skin cancer cells are longer-lived. They don't reach this "differentiated" stage but just keep multiplying and
spreading out into other body parts. So use that sunscreen!
For all of the questions: students interested in "cells and how they
are studied" as well as "what is a cell biologist?" can contact the
American Society for Cell Biology (ASCB) for free brochures and
on-line information at:


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