Blog Post

Is Slathering On the Sunscreen Worth It?

People who diligently use sunscreen every day
can slow or even prevent for a time the development of wrinkles and
sagging skin, a new study found. Although dermatologists have long told
people to use sunscreen to prevent aging, this is the first research to
show an actual effect on the appearance of skin, researchers said.

The study involved 900 white people ages 25
to 55 in Australia, where intense sun exposure is a fact of life. Most
had fair skin, and nearly all burned in the sun. Most were using
sunscreen at least some of the time, and two-thirds wore hats in the
sun. [Source:]

But researchers wanted to find out what would
happen to skin if people tried to use a broad-spectrum sunscreen all
the time over four and a half years. Half of the study participants were
told to continue their usual practices, and the other half to slather
on sunscreen daily.

The result, the researchers reported on Monday
in The Annals of Internal Medicine, is that those assigned to use
sunscreen every day had noticeably more resilient and smoother skin than
those assigned to continue their usual practices.

The study also included nearly 900 people who
were randomly assigned to take beta carotene, a nutritional supplement,
or a placebo to see if the supplement prevented skin aging. It did not.

The sunscreen element of the study impressed
other researchers. Dr. David R. Bickers, a dermatology professor at
Columbia University who was not involved in the research, said it “makes
it clear that extensive, consistent use of sunscreen can alter a
pattern of what would be an inevitable progression of photo-aging.”

Until now, he said, most studies of
sun-damaged skin were conducted with mice, not people, and it was not
clear whether the results would be the same.
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