Midnight Sun Movie and its Portrayal of Xeroderma Pigmentosum
EclipseRx commends the romantic drama Midnight Sun for bringing awareness to the rare skin condition of Xeroderma Pigmentosum
Xeroderma Pigmentosum or XP is a genetic disorder that inhibits the DNA’s ability to repair damage afflicted by ultraviolet light. The most common symptoms are the development of sunburns and even extreme blisters after only few minute exposure to direct sunlight.
Midnight Sun’s main character 17-year-old Katie Price (starring Bella Thorne), life is ruled by Xeroderma Pigmentosum. She lives an isolated existence with only her father Jack (Rob Riggle), and her best friend Morgan (Quinn Shephard) to keep her company during the days. At night, she goes to the local train station to play her guitar. This is where she encounters Charlie (Patrick Schwarzenegger), a neighborhood teen and her longtime crush, that she has secretly watched grow up outside her window for ten years. The chemistry between Charlie and Katie quickly sparks and they end up spending every night together on fun-filled outings. However, Katie not the kind of person who wants to be defined by her restrictions, refrains from telling Charlie about her condition. She wants him to treat her like a person, not a disease.
However, the portrayal of Xeroderma Pigmentosum in Midnight Sun is inaccurate. Katie Price’s character exhibits none of the physical symptomology (rapid sun burns or skin blistering) that plague most afflicted with XP. During the film’s climax Katie is briefly exposed sunlight. After which she immediately displays neurological symptoms, such as numbness in her fingers which prevents her from playing her guitar. While 30 percent of those with Xeroderma Pigmentosum exhibit neurological symptoms1 , like loss of coordination, cognitive impairment, hearing loss, and seizures, this does not occur with the same rapidity the movie portrays.
Midnight Sun also skates over the fact that individuals with Xeroderma Pigmentosum are about 1,000 times more likely to develop skin cancer than individuals without the disorder. Half of the people develop their first skin cancer by age 10. (N/A, 2018)2 Studies suggest that those afflicted with XP may also be more vulnerable than the general populace to other non-skin cancers, such as lung cancer and brain tumors.
According the US Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health, 1 in 250,000 are born with Xeroderma Pigmentosum in the United states. That number changes dramatically in regions like the Middle East, North Africa and Japan. The same article reports that reports of 1 in 20,000 are born with XP in Japan. (Xeroderma Pigmentosum, 2011)3
Eclipse Rx greatly appreciates the dialogue that Midnight Sun has kindled about Xeroderma Pigmentosum and other dangerous skin conditions, such as skin cancer. These conversations forge understanding and change. A change that we at Eclipse Rx hope can help us with our mission in the prevention and hopeful eradication of skin cancer.
1 Xeroderma Pigmentosum. (2018, April 3). Retrieved April 24, 2018, from Genetic Home Reference: https://ghr.nlm.nih.gov/condition/xeroderma-pigmentosum#resources
2 Xeroderma Pigmentosum. (2018, April 3). Retrieved April 24, 2018, from Genetic Home Reference: https://ghr.nlm.nih.gov/condition/xeroderma-pigmentosum#resources
3 Xeroderma Pigmentosum. (2011, November 1). Retrieved April 17, 2018, from Nattional Institue for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3221642/