Best Ways to Address Sun Damage

Best Ways to Address Sun Damage. Fashion, Frying, and the SkinWhen Coco Chanel accidentally got sunburned on the French Riviera during the 1920s, she triggered a fashion craze that has persisted to this day.

Prior to Chanel’s tan, sun-darkened skin was regarded by the wealthy and socially aspirant as coarse and vulgar, an attribute of peasants and vagrants rather than the fair, pale skins of the aristocracy.

Suddenly, young and old, wealthy and poor, were competing to acquire the deepest tan they could develop, toasting themselves to near-zestiness in the sun for as long as they could stand.

In more recent times, of course, considerable medical concern has arisen in connection with the vogue for sun tanning.

Far from being a symbol of health and vigor, sun-darkened skin is, without exception, damaged skin. And the greater the degree of exposure to the sun’s rays, the greater (and more dangerous) the damage. Sunlight contains two forms of radiation that harm human skin.

Ultraviolet ‘B’ radiation (UVB) is of a very short wavelength and literally ‘cooks’ the collagen and elastin in skin – the tissues responsible for maintaining, a taut, firm appearance.

It also produces skin redness – the immediate sign that skin has been harmed – by damaging the fine dermatological capillaries. Moreover, UVB radiation damages skin DNA, the result of which is the increased production of the darkening pigment, melanin (melanogenesis).

This can result in the appearance of dark clusters or moles.

Ultraviolet A (UVA) radiation is of a longer wavelength and stimulates the melanin-producing cells in the skin (melanocytes) to release the pigment (this is not identical to melanogenesis, which refers to the production of new melanin;

UVA causes the release of already existing melanin, which is normally ‘bound’ within the melanocytes). The released melanin then oxidizes to produce tanning coloration.

UVA also penetrates deeper into the skin than UVB, whereupon it appears to accelerate the aging process, producing wrinkles, dryness, and uneven skin tone.

Whilst UVA is believed to cause fewer cancers than UVB, it is closely correlated with malignant melanoma, one of the most aggressive and dangerous skin cancers known to medical science (UVB is implicated in cancers such as basal cell carcinoma, which rarely metastasizes like melanoma does and is more treatable).

Skin Repair with Vitamin AThankfully, for the many who have sustained at least some sun damage to date, all is not lost.

There are some measures that may be taken to help reverse old damage and prevent new harm. One relatively simple step was identified recently by a team of researchers from the University of Arizona

and Texas, who found that the daily ingestion of 50,000 IU (approximately 15mg) of vitamin A appreciably reversed skin damage among 129 patients with severe sun damage on their forearms.

In an earlier study, the same researchers had discovered that a smaller, 25,000 IU dose of vitamin A resulted in a 32% decrease in squamous skin cancers amongst the 2,500 patients who participated in the study.

Hypothesizing that an increased dosage of vitamin A may produce even better chemo-preventive results, the later study examined the effects of 50,000 IU and 75,000IU of vitamin A on 129 randomized participants over a 12-month period.

Biopsies of forearm tissue were examined before and after the study period. The results were significant: patients receiving placebo showed only a 25% reduction in skin damage, whereas the group taking 25,000 IU vitamin A showed a 62% reduction.

This percentage increased to 81% and 79% respectively for groups taking 50,000 IU and 75,000 IU. None of the patients taking increased dosages showed any sign of vitamin A toxicity.

It has been known for some time that vitamin A, an antioxidant found in foods such as fish and eggs, can prevent and reverse some forms of cancerous change, and this study confirms that relatively high

dosages are both effective and safe for periods of up to a year in mending the carcinogenic effects of sunlight on the skin.

A small further study in Singapore showed that a single 200 mg tablet of vitamin A can result in a 32% reduction in the risk of squamous skin cancer.

Admittedly the study contained 41 patients with enormous spreads of skin cancer that required stable disease treatment.

As regards the specific mechanism by which the antioxidant properties of vitamin A help achieve this, the study Procedures showed that the formation of free radicals decreases when vitamin A is applied to the skin, unlike when consumption of a similar amount is done.

Additionally, the study group showed that topical vitamin A prevents the deterioration of tumors by supplying antioxidants to the cancerous cells.

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