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Sunscreen slows skin aging, study finds

June 4, 2013
Courtesy of the American College of Physicians
and World Science staff

Daily use of sun­screen slows skin ag­ing in the young and mid­dle-aged, a study has found.

The re­search, pub­lished in the jour­nal An­nals of In­ter­nal Med­i­cine, found that af­ter four and a half years, those who ap­plied sun­screen daily to their skin had no de­tect­a­ble skin ag­ing and had 24 per­cent less ag­ing of the skin than those who used sun­screen less of­ten.

The re­sults were found for par­ti­ci­pants in their for­ties and fifties and for young­er par­ti­ci­pants.

Skin ag­ing is due to the cu­mu­la­tive ef­fect of sun ex­po­sure, su­per­im­posed on chron­o­log­i­cal ag­ing, ex­perts say. Bil­lions of dol­lars are spent each year on prod­ucts that prom­ise to treat or pro­tect against it.

The study al­so looked at the ef­fect of beta-carotene sup­ple­ments on skin ag­ing.

The study was con­ducted in Nam­bour, Aus­trali­a—a re­gion known as the Sun­shine Coast—with 903 par­ti­ci­pants young­er than fif­ty-five. The study was re­strict­ed to those un­der fif­ty-five be­cause their skin ag­ing is caused pri­marily by ef­fects of the sun as op­posed to get­ting old­er. They were ran­domly as­signed to one of four groups those who could use sun­screen when they felt it was nec­es­sary and those who were to use it on a daily ba­sis. Par­ti­ci­pants in both groups ei­ther took a daily beta-carotene sup­ple­ment or pla­ce­bo, or neu­tral sub­stance.

Par­ti­ci­pants had molds made of the back of their hands and were grad­ed for ag­ing at the start and end of the stu­dy. When the molds were com­pared re­search­ers saw no in­creased or pro­gres­sive ag­ing amongst the peo­ple who had used the sun­screen reg­u­larly com­pared with more se­vere pro­gres­sive ag­ing in those who did­n’t use sun­screen on a reg­u­lar ba­sis.

The study found no ben­e­fit to beta-carotene sup­ple­ments for re­duc­ing skin ag­ing, though it could not rule out a small ef­fect.


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Daily use of sunscreen slows skin aging in the young and middle-aged, a study has found. The research, published in the journal Annals of Internal Medicine, found that after four and a half years, those who applied sunscreen daily to their skin had no detectable skin aging and had 24% less aging of the skin than those who used sunscreen less often. The results were found for participants in their forties and fifties and for younger participants. Skin aging is due to the cumulative effect of sun exposure, superimposed on chronological aging, experts say. Billions of dollars are spent each year on products that promise to treat or protect against it. The study also looked at the effect of beta-carotene supplements on skin aging. The study was conducted in Nambour Australia—a region known as the Sunshine Coast—with 903 participants younger than fifty-five. The study was restricted to those under fifty-five because their skin aging is caused primarily by effects of the sun as opposed to getting older. They were randomly assigned to one of four groups those who could use sunscreen when they felt it was necessary and those who were to use it on a daily basis. Participants in both groups either took a daily beta-carotene supplement or placebo, or neutral substance. Participants had molds made of the back of their hands and were graded for aging at the start and end of the study. When the molds were compared researchers saw no increased or progressive aging amongst the people who had used the sunscreen regularly compared with more severe progressive aging in those who didn’t use sunscreen on a regular basis. The study found no benefit to beta-carotene supplements for reducing skin aging, though it could not rule out a small effect.