What You Eat Can Protect Your Skin from the Sun
"Lutein has been widely recognized for its eye health benefits for several years. But, our data is the first of its kind to suggest that lutein may have the potential to act as a preventative agent against UVB-induced skin cancer," said Salvador Gonzalez, M. D., Ph. D., leader of the Harvard research team. "In addition, these data suggest that lutein protects the skin against damage caused by exposure to UVB light, further validating our position that lutein is a critical component to overall skin health."
UVA and UVB rays are two types of harmful rays found in sunlight. UVA rays contribute to wrinkling the skin, as well as to the development of skin cancer. UVB rays are the ones that are the primary cause of sunburn and skin cancer.
Good sunscreens block both UVA and UVB rays and are critical to skin health. But, you can do even more to protect your skin and eyes when you're outside.
Safety tips to keep top of mind:
- Wear UV-blocking sunglasses. Over time, exposure to ultraviolet light can cause cataracts and increase your risk of macular degeneration, a disease that causes irreversible blindness.
- If you're a parent, protect your children's skin. Research indicates that one or more severe, blistering sunburns in childhood or adolescence can double the risk of skin cancer later in life.
- Check the expiration date on your sunscreen. Sunscreen without an expiration date has a shelf life of no more than three years.
EDITOR'S NOTE: Barbara Levine is associate clinical professor of nutrition in medicine at Cornell University Medical College and chairperson of the Lutein Information Bureau.