Nutritional Protection for Skin Health
By Dr. Andrew Myers
According to the American Cancer Society, skin cancer is the most common of all cancer types. There are more than 1 million cases of skin cancer found each year in the United States. That’s more than prostate, breast, lung, colon, uterine, ovarian and pancreatic cancer combined. And the number of skin cancers has been steadily rising for the past 30 years.
Skin cancer screening is becoming a very important preventive measure to consider for anyone who is concerned about a worrisome skin lesion. Early detection of melanoma or other types of skin cancer can save your life.
The good news is there is a lot you can do to protect yourself and your family from skin cancer. Most skin cancers are caused by too much exposure to the sun’s ultraviolet rays.
Solar radiation is one of the most damaging elements for your skin, causing sunburn, premature skin aging and skin cancer. Using sunscreens, staying in the shade and covering exposed skin are still among the best methods for protecting your skin. In addition to covering up, research now indicates that several nutrients and antioxidants can aid in protecting and healing damaged skin and may contribute to lowering the risk of developing skin cancer. You can become aware of your skin’s health, with a simple skin screening known as DermaScan™. The DermaScan is a simple device that uses ultraviolet (UV) light to show sun damage that is invisible to the naked eye. By looking into the DermaScan, you can see the sun damage that has already happened to your face in as little as five minutes.
When sunlight burns exposed skin, the result is a cascade of free radicals causing damage to skin tissues, reducing elasticity and contributing to the formation of age spots, and wrinkles and increasing the risk of developing skin cancer. In clinical trials, a number of antioxidants, including carotenoids and vitamins E and C, have been found to be capable of scavenging free radicals generated during the photo-stress caused by sunlight.
Vitamins C and E
Researchers have found that subjects supplemented with the antioxidant nutrients vitamins C and E had elevated levels of these vitamins elevated in skin tissue samples. Additionally, when researchers exposed the volunteers to UV radiation to induce sunburn, the combination of vitamins C and E together protected the skin and suppressed the sunburn reaction.
A number of studies have demonstrated the protective properties of oral carotenoids showing that sunburn was suppressed significantly with a combination of carotenoids and vitamin E. Researchers concluded that the antioxidants provided protection against erythema, or skin redness, and were effective in diminishing sensitivity to ultraviolet light.
Green tea contains natural antioxidant substances known as polyphenol epicatechins. Researchers have shown that green tea polyphenols – taken orally or applied topically – exert protective effects that inhibit uv radiation-induced skin tumors. Studies have also shown that green tea extract possesses anti-inflammatory activity, protecting against ultraviolet (UV) light-induced skin inflammation.
Antioxidants like green tea, vitamin C and carotenoids are just a few of the nutrients that have been shown to shield the skin from UV radiation and suppress sunburn. Continued intake of antioxidants and carotenoids, in conjunction with sunscreen and protective clothing, may pay off in the long run with smoother, unblemished skin and reduced risk of developing skin cancer.