Sunscreen Buffers Skin Aging

Skin aging in middle aged adults reduced by regular sunscreen use

(RxWiki News) Sunscreen helps prevent sunburns, but it may also help protect skin from sun-related aging. Regular use of sunscreen is recommended by skin doctors.

A recent clinical trial tested whether the use of sunscreen could keep people’s skin from aging.

The results of the study showed that regular sunscreen use by middle-aged men and women appeared to keep their skin looking younger than the skin of people who did not use sunscreen.

"Use sunscreen when outdoors."

Maria Celia B. Hughes, MMedSci, and Adele C. Green, MBBS, PhD, from the Queensland Institute of Medical Research at Royal Brisbane Hospital in Australia, led this study to investigate whether the use of sunscreen or nutritional supplements could help reduce the signs of skin aging.

Photoaging occurs when the skin appears to become wrinkled and weathered from exposure to rays of ultraviolet light over time.

According to the study authors, many cosmetic creams and sunscreens claim to reduce photoaging, but previous studies have shown mixed results.

In past research, the nutritional supplement beta-carotene has been reported to have antioxidant properties. For this study, the researchers wanted to know if the antioxidant properties of beta-carotene could combat the body’s reaction to oxidative stress involved in photoaging.

For this clinical trial, 903 adults under the age of 55 were randomly assigned to one of four treatment groups for 4.5 years.

Members of group one were given sunscreen to wear daily and 30 mg of beta-carotene to take daily.

Members of group two were given sunscreen to wear daily and a fake supplement, or placebo, to take daily.

Members of group three were given sunscreen to wear whenever they thought they should and were given 30 mg of beta-carotene to take daily.

Members of group four were given sunscreen to wear whenever they thought they should and were given a placebo supplement to take daily.

All of the sunscreen used in this trial had a sun protection factor (SPF) of 15 or greater.

The results of the study showed that the use of beta-carotene had no overall effect on skin aging. Although, the researchers wrote that an effect from beta-carotene use could not be ruled out either.

The researchers recommended further research on the potential harms and benefits from taking beta-carotene supplements.

The researchers looked at the skin on the back of the hands and neck of each participant to gauge photoaging.

Skin aging was reduced by 24 percent in people who used sunscreen either daily or at their own discretion compared to people who did not use sunscreen.

The study authors concluded that the use of sunscreen slowed skin aging in healthy, middle-aged men and women.

“Sunscreen is not only important in the prevention of certain types of skin cancer, but also provides protection from ultraviolet rays to slow the development of photoaging,” said Victoria Sharon, MD, DTMH, assistant professor of Dermatology & Dermatologic Surgery at the University of California, Davis Medical Center.

“The cumulative exposure of sunlight over a number of years leads to the breakdown of elastic fibers in the skin, leading to wrinkles. The findings of this study support the notion that the regular use of sunscreen may impede skin aging,” Dr. Sharon told dailyRx. Dr. Sharon was not involved with this study. 

This study was published in June in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

The National Health and Medical Research Council of Australia, Ross Cosmetics and Roche Vitamins and Fine Chemicals provided funding for this project. No conflicts of interest were declared.

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Review Date: 
June 10, 2013