Tomatoes protect skin against sun damage

Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the U.S., affecting one out of every five Americans, and its incidence is rising. Ultraviolet (UV) radiation is responsible for the development of most skin cancers and also skin aging. [1]

Ultraviolet radiation from the sun exerts these aging and carcinogenic effects on the skin via oxidative stress, inflammation, and damage to DNA. As such, there has been much interest in the scientific community in using antioxidants from plant foods to protect against this damage. Photoprotection has been previously demonstrated in animal studies by multiple antioxidant supplements, including green tea catechins, proanthocyanadins, resveratrol, and silymarin. In addition to their antioxidant effects, these substances can also absorb UV radiation (when applied topically), enable DNA damage repair, and reduce inflammation. [2]

Tomato. Photo credit: Mr. T in DC (Flickr)

Lycopene, well-known for its prostate cancer-protective effects, is a carotenoid antioxidant present in red and pink fruits such as tomato, grapefruit, and papaya. It is especially concentrated in cooked tomato products like tomato paste. Lycopene is a powerful antioxidant that in vitro has been shown to prevent or repair damage to DNA that potentially leads to cancer development. Lycopene also stimulates production of antioxidant enzymes, inhibits signals that promote tumor progression, and promotes programmed death of cancerous cells. [3]

Researchers recently tested whether the antioxidant actions of lycopene in tomato paste could lessen the skin-damaging effects of UV radiation in human subjects. A group of healthy women consumed tomato paste daily for twelve weeks, and their skin’s reddening response to UV light was measured at the beginning and end of the study. After twelve weeks of tomato supplementation, the skin’s resistance to UV-induced reddening was enhanced. The tomato paste supplementation also resulted in reduced mitochondrial DNA damage and reduced activity of an enzyme that degrades the skin’s extracellular proteins, a process that contributes to skin aging. These results suggest that regular tomato consumption can help to reduce the skin-damaging effects of the sun. [4]

Tomatoes are rich not only in lycopene but in thousands of other protective compounds, both discovered and undiscovered, that likely have powerful heart disease- and cancer-preventive effects. Be sure to eat both fresh, raw tomatoes and cooked tomatoes to get the full spectrum of tomatoes’ phytochemicals.

 

References:

1. Skin Cancer Foundation: Skin Cancer Facts. October 14, 2010]; Available from: http://www.skincancer.org/Skin-Cancer-Facts/.
2. Nichols, J.A. and S.K. Katiyar, Skin photoprotection by natural polyphenols: anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and DNA repair mechanisms. Arch Dermatol Res, 2010. 302(2): p. 71-83.
3. van Breemen, R.B. and N. Pajkovic, Multitargeted therapy of cancer by lycopene. Cancer Lett, 2008. 269(2): p. 339-51.
4. Rizwan, M., et al., Tomato paste rich in lycopene protects against cutaneous photodamage in humans in vivo. Br J Dermatol, 2010.

 

Staying safe in the sun

Sunrise

The weather is warm, school is out, and summer is upon us. Because of depletion of the ozone layer that protected against harmful radiation in earlier times, today’s sun exposure is not truly natural, and is more damaging. As we plan to spend more time outdoors, we must also avoid excessive sun exposure to protect ourselves from the free radical damage and wrinkling that can ensue and to minimize the risk of skin cancer. First we should be sure to seek shade often, wear protective clothing, and avoid noon time sun. When choosing a sunscreen or sunblock is important to use the safest and most effective methods of sun protection – the SPF number does not tell the whole story.

Exposure to sunlight triggers vitamin D production. However, according to the American Academy of Dermatology there is no safe amount of unprotected UV exposure that can allow for sufficient vitamin D production without increasing the risk of skin cancer. Supplementation is the safest method of maintaining sufficient vitamin D levels.1

 

 

Melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer, has been steadily on the rise since, its prevalence increasing approximately 2.9% per year since 1981.It is essential to protect your skin from the sun’s rays.

UVA and UVB rays

UVB rays are the rays that cause sunburn. They bind DNA and can cause mutations that lead to skin cancer. UVA rays penetrate more deeply into the skin, causing oxidative damage that can lead to skin aging and skin cancer.3

Both types of radiation are believed to contribute to melanoma, but many sunscreens block only UVB.

Types of sun protection

  • Sunscreen absorbs and deflects the sun’s rays away from the skin through a chemical reaction. Sunscreens vary in their ability to protect against UVB and UVA rays depending on the ingredients used. Common sunscreen ingredients include oxybenzone, octisalate, and avobenzone.
  • Sunblock creates a physical barrier between the UVA and UVB rays and the skin.4 Titanium dioxide and zinc oxide are the most common sunblocks. Physically blocking sunlight from penetrating the skin is the most effective way to block UVA radiation.

Which type of sun protection is safer? Which is more effective?

Many sunscreens do not protect against UVA rays. The SPF listed on these products refers only to UVB protection. The FDA has no standards for measuring how well a sunscreen blocks UVA rays. Ironically, a product with a high SPF, and no UVA protection, could promote unsafe sun exposure behaviors – you may falsely believe that you can safely stay in the sun longer, overexposing yourself to UVA rays even though you avoid sunburn from the UVB rays.5

The Environmental Working Group has reported this troubling news about sunscreens: Vitamin A is often listed on sunscreen labels as an antioxidant that can fight skin aging. Vitamin A is an antioxidant, but in isolation it could be dangerous, both in supplements and for the skin. Sunscreens may actually promote the progression skin cancer if they contain vitamin A – vitamin A applied to the skin has been shown by FDA studies to accelerate the growth of skin tumors in animals.6

Sunscreens may also damage your skin. Common sunscreen ingredients can generate free radicals, causing oxidative damage. The sunscreen itself and how often it is applied determines whether it releases or absorbs more free radicals.7

Chemical sunscreen ingredients, including oxybenzone, can potentially disrupt hormonal systems in the body, which could have long-term health implications.8

In addition, a number of studies have linked allergic reactions to chemical sunscreens, particularly oxybenzone.9 Little is known about the potential harm of chronic sunscreen use and the systemically absorbed chemicals deposited after topical application.10

These sunscreen ingredients are potentially harmful and should be avoided:11

  • Oxybenzone (found in 60% of sunscreen products)
  • Octisalate (found in 58% of sunscreen products)
  • Octyl methoxycinnamate (OMC; found in 40% of sunscreen products)
  • Padimate O

Mineral sunblocks contain either titanium dioxide or zinc oxide, and these are preferable to chemical sunscreens. These minerals do not penetrate as deeply into the skin as chemical sunscreens. They lie on top of the skin and penetrate only into superficial layers, reflecting UV rays before they cause damage. Mineral sunblocks are the only method of sun protection that blocks UVA rays.

Nanoparticles in sunscreens

There are concerns about certain sunblock products that use small particles of titanium dioxide and zinc oxide produced via nanotechnology. The purpose is to make the sunblock more easily absorbed by the skin and therefore more transparent. These tiny nanoparticles, however, can penetrate biological membranes and easily reach cells. Nanoparticles are smaller than anything humans have put into commercial products before.  Preliminary investigations have found only a limited ability of mineral nanoparticles to penetrate the skin12, but oxidative stress and DNA damage to skin cells have been observed. Also, upon inhalation these particles reach the bloodstream and several organs.11,13 Additional studies are needed in order to definitively determine whether these products are safe.

Mineral sunblock is the safest choice.

Overall, the physical sunblocks, with titanium dioxide and zinc oxide, are the safest choices for sun protection. They are the least irritating, and they safely provide protection against both UV-A and UV-B rays. According to the Environmental Working Group, mineral sunblocks containing nanoparticles are still a safer option than chemical sunscreens. Unfortunately, sunblock labels most often do not disclose whether the product contains nanoparticles. We've done our research and found a product-line which uses nonmicronized zinc oxide that is safe and effective. Our GreenScreen line protects against both UV-A and UV-B without the use of nanoparticles or harmful chemicals.

Remember, sun protection products must be applied liberally to insure you receive the SPF protection claimed on the label. Most people apply 25-75% less sunscreen than the amount used when the manufacturers test their products.14

Make the summer sunshine a safe, fun, and healthy experience for you and your family!

4. Levy S. "Sunscreens and Photoprotection." www.emedicine.com (accessed June 20, 2007).

5.  Autier P. Sunscreen abuse for intentional sun exposure. Br J Dermatol. 2009 Nov;161 Suppl 3:40-5.

8. Schlumpf M, Schmid P, Durrer S, et al. Endocrine activity and developmental toxicity of cosmetic UV filters--an update. Toxicology. 2004 Dec 1;205(1-2):113-22.

Schlumpf M, Cotton B, Conscience M, et al. In vitro and in vivo estrogenicity of UV screens. Environ Health Perspect. 2001 Mar;109(3):239-44.

9. Szczurko C, Dompmartin, Michel M, et al. "Photocontact Allergy to Oxybenzone: 10 years of Experience." Photodermatol PhotoimmunolPhotomed 1994;10(4):144-7.

Schauder S, Ippen H. "Contact and Photocontact Sensitivity to Sunscreens: Review of a 15-year Experience and of the Literature." Contact Dermatitis 1997;37(5):221-32.

10. Hayben H, Cameron, M. Roberts H, et al. "Systemic Absorption of Sunscreen after Topical Application." The Lancet 1997;350:9081.

Gustavsson G, Farbrot A, Larko O. "Percutaneous Absorption of Benzophenone-3, a Common Component of Topical Sunscreens." ClinExp Dermatol 2002;27(8):691-4.

11. Environmental Working Group. Nanomaterials and hormone disruptors in sunscreens.

http://www.ewg.org/2010sunscreen/full-report/nanomaterials-and-hormone-disruptors-in-sunscreens/

12. Filipe P, Silva JN, Silva R, et al. Stratum corneum is an effective barrier to TiO2 and ZnO nanoparticle percutaneous absorption. Skin Pharmacol Physiol. 2009;22(5):266-75.

13. Consumer Reports - July 2007 " Nanotechnolody Untold promise, unknown risk."

14. "Sunscreens: Some are short on protection." Consumer Reports July 2007.

Good eating is skin deep

Sunbather

Skin cancer is the most prevalent cancer in the United States.   Every year, over one million people are diagnosed with skin cancer. Given the thinning of the ozone layer around the earth and the increased potential for skin cancer with “normal” sun exposure, clearly, we must minimize our skin cancer risk by applying (non-chemical) sunscreen, avoiding tanning beds and limiting the amount of hours we spend in the sunlight. What most people are not aware of however, is the power of a high nutrient diet in the prevention of all types of skin cancer. Cancers, in general, can only flourish in the body when cells that undergo free radical damage and the subsequent DNA damage, are unable to be repaired by the cell’s DNA monitoring and repair tools. 

Natural, plant based foods are rich in antioxidants and phytochemicals, substances that are needed for these repair mechanisms to function most optimally.   If one’s diet is low in vegetables, fruits, beans, nuts and seeds, the body will not be supplied with enough micronutrients for its cells to defend itself from oxidative damaged caused by UV radiation. Nutrients penetrate every cell in the body and are needed in every cell, including skin cells. Oxidative damage caused by free radicals from sunlight exposure can be opposed when a healthful diet rich in antioxidants is consumed. Vegetables, both raw and cooked, offer much needed protection from skin cancer, as they would for other cancers. Green vegetables, most notably the cruciferous variety, win the competition for cancer defending properties. The concept of consuming a high-nutrient, plant based diet has been supported in a recent study conducted in Australia. Researches analyzed the diet, skin color, and sunlight exposure of 1,360 adults, aged 25-75, who participated in a community-based skin cancer study from 1992-2002. Two main eating patterns were identified: a meat and fat pattern and a vegetable and fruit pattern. Not surprisingly, the meat and fat pattern diet was positively associated with development of skin cancer, and even more strongly associated in participants with a skin cancer history. Increased consumption of the vegetable and fruit dietary pattern reduced skin cancer occurrence by 54%, with the protective effect mostly attributed to the consumption of green, leafy vegetables. In conclusion, the researchers deemed that a dietary pattern characterized by high meat and fat intakes increases skin cancer odds, while a dietary pattern characterized by higher consumption of green vegetables decreases it. 

While enjoying summer days out by the pool this summer, remember not just to apply a non-chemical sunscreen, but to fill up on those ever remarkable and delicious fruits and veggies. And, don’t forget to invite me to your 100 year old birthday party..

 

Reference:

Ibiebele TI, van der Pols JC, Hughes MC, et al. “Dietary pattern in association with squamous cell carcinoma of the skin: a prospective study.” Am J Clin Nutr 2007; 85(5):1401-8.

Broccoli Sprouts Protect Against Respiratory Inflammation

I love broccoli! This is great awesome. A new study in the journal Clinical Immunology claims consuming broccoli sprouts contributed to a significant boosting antioxidant which protect airways against inflammation and asthma. Researchers gave test subjects varying does of oral sulforaphane, an anti-cancer agent found in green vegetables like broccoli, for three days and rinses of nasal passages revealed high doses result in a 101% to 199% increase in GSTP1 and NQO1 antioxidant enzymes; Food Navigator reports.

Previous studies show broccoli protects blood vessels against heart disease and stroke, especially good for diabetics, who are at higher risk of cardiovascular disease. Eating broccoli also helps fight prostate cancer and skin cancer.

Wow, asthma has been all over the news lately, this week we’ve seen reports link asthma risk with traffic pollution and watching too much television. Eek!

Image credit: aidanbrooks