It has been common knowledge for a number of years that regular sunscreen application prevents skin cancer and the FDA changed the allowed labeling on the counters so they can state this. A study published earlier this month in Annals of Internal Medicine now shows it also slows the aging process.
Researchers at the Queensland Institute of Medical in Australia looked at a group of 900 young and middle-aged, mostly fair skinned men and women under age 55 (to factor out the contribution of genetic aging) that were randomly divided into 2 groups. The first group applied SPF15+ sunscreen to their faces, necks, hands and arms daily. The second group used sunscreen either rarely, or not at all, discretionary sunscreen group. Silicone impressions were taken from the backs of all participants’ hands, at the beginning and then again at the end of the study, 4 1/2 years after it began. Roughly half of the participants worked primarily outdoors, while about four in 10 were regular smokers. The daily sunscreen group showed no detectable increase in skin aging during the course of the study, according to microtopography measures. The visual appearance of aging skin wrinkles from beginning to the end of the study was 24% less in the daily sunscreen group than in the discretionary sunscreen group.
Each group was divided in half again to receive a 30mg beta-carotene supplement or a placebo on a daily basis. The supplement did not affect skin aging in this study.
The take home message is that daily sunscreen application can prevent skin cancer, keep you younger looking longer and you are never too young to start applying it. Furthermore, daily sunscreen application does more for you than taking some daily supplements that are believed to be good for your skin.