Scientists Discover why Fair Skin Accelerates Aging

If you have fair skin, freckles, or red/light hair, listen up! Scientists have just discovered that our cells are actually contributing to skin damage through a process generated by reactive oxygen species (ROS), unstable oxygen-containing molecules that can damage cells.

Doing chemical peels will help, but knowing why our skin ages faster will help us identify other changes we can make to slow down this accelerated aging process.

If you have fair skin, freckles, or red hair, you already know that you burn easily in the sun compared to others without these features. Until recently, scientists assumed that this was attributed to a lack of melanin in the skin cells, which typically protects us somewhat from UV damage.

Researchers from Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH), suspecting that the pigment-associated risk might be chemically related to the generation of (ROS) - unstable oxygen-containing molecules that can damage cells - examined skin samples and discovered elevated levels of a type of DNA damage typically produced by ROS, supporting their theory of oxidative damage.

What does this mean for those of us who are fair skinned? It means that not only are we more susceptible to UV damage, but also that our cells, in particular, may be causing further damage to our skin.

What can we do? The first step is to protect our skin from UV damage, but that’s nothing new.

Next, we must consume antioxidants to neutralize ROS, and the best form of antioxidants is food. 

Look at the difference between eating corn and olives: corn causes inflammation or oxidative damage, but olive act as antioxidants:

David Fisher, MD, PhD, chief of the MGH Department of Dermatology is the author of the article, published in Dermatology, Nov 2012, if you would like to read the article.

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