Phytochemicals shown to protect skin from sun damage

Wednesday, August 10, 2011 by: T.M. Hartle
Tags: skin, sun damage, health news

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(NaturalNews) One in five Americans will develop skin cancer in their lifetime. According to reports, 65% of new cases of melanoma are related to exposure to UV rays, or the sun. This simple, yet profound fact has led to a mass media campaign advocating liberal use of sunscreen. Unfortunately, critical research on the importance of phytochemical protection against UV rays has largely been ignored. A large body of evidence has shown that phytochemicals found in fruits and vegetables protect the skin from sun damage.

According to the USDA food consumption chart, the average American consumes only 12% of their calories from fruits and vegetables combined. The importance of fruits and vegetables in the diet is well known and yet ignored by the large majority of Americans. One critically important aspect of fruits and vegetables in the diet is the phytochemical's ability to protect against sun damage.

A recent study in the British Journal of Dermatology examined whether tomato paste, rich in lycopene, could protect against UV sun damage. The researchers of this study evaluated biopsies of skin tissue from unexposed and UV exposed skin samples. Upon review of the skin samples researchers concluded, 'Lycopene provides protection against acute and potentially longer-term aspects of photo-damage.' This recent study highlights the protective nature of fruit and vegetable phytochemicals not only in optimal health but also in protection against UV skin damage and potentially skin cancer.
A study published in Molecular Biotechnology concluded that carotenoids and flavonoids are also involved in the prevention of UV damage in humans. Researchers reported that as these antioxidants are ingested in the diet they are distributed into light-exposed tissues of the skin and eye where they provide phyto-protection. The researchers concluded, 'Dietary micronutrients may contribute to life-long protection against harmful UV radiation.' Several studies have now confirmed the significant protective nature of phyto-chemicals in the diet against UV skin damage.

Reports from the University of California Riverside state that nearly 50% of the world's population is at risk for vitamin D deficiency. According to the Vitamin D Council, sun exposure should be the number one method of choice for adequate vitamin D. The combination of adequate vitamin D and dietary phytochemical intake is invaluable in protecting against cancer and skin damage from UV rays.

Unfortunately, the medical community continues to promote the use of sun block as the optimal source of protection against skin cancer. Sun block not only blocks UV rays, but it also prevents the production of vitamin D increasing the risk of deficiency. According to recent research, the best source of protection against UV radiation from the sun is the phytochemicals found in fruits and vegetables as nature intended us to obtain protection from the sun's rays.


About the author

T.M. Hartle has a Bachelors degree in Natural Health Science with a concentration in Clinical Nutrition as well as a Certificate in Plant Based Nutrition from Cornell University. She is a student midwife who teaches pregnancy nutrition courses to midwives and childbirth educators throughout the country. She has a certificate in the Essentials of raw culinary arts from Living Light Culinary Arts Institute and is the Owner and Chef of The Peaceful Kitchen.

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