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    Data suggests pollution new target in skin aging


    Scientific findings indicate that people need to do more to protect their skin from the sun and must now also begin thinking about the damaging effects of exposure to pollution. Topical applications of antioxidants and DNA repair enzymes have potential to be helpful tools, according to an expert who spoke at the 2014 Annual Meeting of the American Society for Dermatologic Surgery.

    READ: More coverage of the ASDS 2014 Annual Meeting

    Patricia Farris, M.D., a clinical associate professor at Tulane University and fellow of the American Academy of Dermatology, says ultraviolet A and ultraviolet B aren’t the only culprits when it comes to skin damage. Recent data suggests that “we need to protect against other wavelengths of light, including visible and infrared,” she says. “These wavelengths can trigger oxidative stress, and that mimics the deleterious effects of UV light.”

    As for pollution, recent data suggests that “it contributes to oxidative stress and, more specifically, mitochondrial oxidative stress. An interesting clinical study demonstrated that women who live in urban areas with high levels of particulate matter and pollution had a 22 percent increase in pigmented spots —  lentigines — and significantly more coarse wrinkling. So it appears that pollution does contribute to the clinical signs of extrinsic skin aging.”

    As a result, she says, it’s important to explore protecting the skin with antioxidants, DNA repair enzymes and osmolytes. “Antioxidants can be applied topically to boost antioxidant defense against environmentally induced oxidative stress,” she says,” and they protect the skin from sunburn, UV-induced immunosuppression and DNA damage.”

    DNA repair enzymes “are derived from bacteria and algae and help to repair DNA mutations that occur from UV exposure,” she says. “They have been tested on patients with xeroderma pigmentosa who have a genetic defect in their ability to repair DNA mutations. In these studies, topically applied DNA repair enzymes reduced the incidence of actinic keratosis and skin cancer.”

    Farris points to a recent study in The Journal of Drugs in Dermatology that touts the anti-aging skin benefits of a new product containing sunscreen, antioxidants and DNA repair enzymes. 

    Randy Dotinga
    Randy Dotinga is a medical writer based in San Diego, Calif.


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