I’ve discussed measures for preventing sun damage and skin cancer previously in my blog. As I’ve said, as a holistic dermatologist, I believe prevention really is the best medicine.
So now let’s discuss exactly what happens when sun hits the skin. Packets of light energy known as “photons” hit chemical structures in your cells and activate them so that they transform chemically, often causing them to combine with chemicals next to them.
This includes causing chemical changes in the cells’ DNA, which can eventually change cells into to skin cancer.
When you apply a sunscreen, the energy from the sun is absorbed by that sunscreen chemical, changed, and then released as a hopefully less harmful energy. Sometimes it comes out as a different wavelength of light.
If the effects of that energy can be safely spread around and absorbed by the skin chemicals, there is little harm done.
LINES OF DEFENSE
Now think of it like a football game. The football represents the packet of light energy from the sun. When the team hikes the ball, the opposing team attacks, the front line acts as a barrier, and the football is passed back and forth by the team in the rear to keep it from being attacked.
The more the team behind the line passes it back and forth, the less likely a player with it will be attacked. We have a number of antioxidants in our skin both naturally present and from our diets and what we apply. If they are sufficient, balanced, and work well together like good linebackers, none of the team members will be attacked.
Antioxidants will help protect us to a degree, and work together with other forms of protection including sunscreens. One such external anti-oxidant is resveratrol, made from grape seeds and other plants. It can be ingested or applied to the skin or both, and there is evidence that it reduces sunburn cells and other measurements of sun damage in both mice and men.
There is even a patent for the use of resveratrol as a sun protectant, although one could argue that such use is apparent rather than unapparent, as required for being patentable in the first place.
Other anti-oxidants include vitamin C, Lipoic acid, glutathione, other biovflavinoids, carotinoids, and selenium. It is worthwhile to include these in your diet.
To your health,
-Dr. Alan M. Dattner, MD
As always, the content of this blog is for information and education purposes only, and should not be used to diagnose or treat illness; please see your physician for care.