June 4 (Bloomberg) -- Want younger-looking skin? Wear sunscreen every day.
Regular sunscreen use can stem the aging effects of the sun’s ultraviolet radiation, researchers in Australia found. The world-first study of 900 young and middle-aged adults showed that those who applied sunscreen most days had no detectable aging of the skin after 4 1/2 years.
The finding, published yesterday in the Annals of Internal Medicine, provides scientific backing for what some people have considered common sense, the authors said. The results also suggest sunscreen may be a cheaper alternative for a fresher looking face than the billions of dollars spent annually on anti-wrinkle creams and lotions.
“This has been one of those beauty tips you often hear quoted, but for the first time we can back it with science,” Adele Green, one of the study’s authors and a senior scientist at the Queensland Institute of Medical Research in Brisbane, said in a statement.
“Protecting yourself from skin cancer by using sunscreen regularly has the added bonus of keeping you looking younger. And the study has shown that up to middle age, it’s not too late to make a difference,” she said.
The study, funded by the National Health and Medical Research Council of Australia, studied 903 adults living in the coastal town of Nambour in Queensland state. Participants were from among 1,621 people randomly selected from a community register. Ross Cosmetics and Roche Vitamins and Fine Chemicals also provided financial assistance for the research.
The study involved half of the participants regularly using SPF15+ sunscreen on their face, arms and hands and the other half using sunscreen in their usual way, if at all.
Silicone impressions, or molds, were taken from the backs of all participants’ hands at the start and end of the trial to grade the damage from 1992 to 1996. The participants were all younger than 55 years to ensure that photo-aging, rather than chronological aging was the major factor in skin changes.
Regular sunscreen users had 24 percent less skin-aging than those who used the cream only some of the time, if at all.
While sunscreen’s benefits were widely recognized, evidence of its potential in fending off skin-aging had only been shown in hairless mice, the authors said.
Their study also tested the theory that beta-carotene supplements can prevent skin aging.
“Our findings suggest that beta-carotene supplements do not influence skin-aging, although we can’t rule out the possibility of a small difference for better or worse,” Green said. “There would need to be further study into beta-carotene to rule out benefit or harm.”
The research was part of the Nambour Skin Cancer Prevention Trial. The study, which began in 1986 and finished in 2007, provided the first scientific evidence that sunscreen protects against skin cancer, and has resulted in the publication of almost 100 scientific papers to date, said Kirsten MacGregor, a spokeswoman for the Queensland Institute of Medical Research.
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