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Putting a new wrinkle on the dangers of sunbathing.

Summer is here, and the yearning to bathe one's body in the warmth of the sun has become reality, so beware! Altnough long and intense exposure may be necessary to produce skin cancer, a recent study at the University of Michigan shows that even momentary exposure to sunlight can damage human skin.

The Michigan researchers briefly exposed human subject to a light source that emitted the same ultraviolet radiation as the sun. Analyzing tiny skin samples, they found that even momentary exposure to the sun's rays increased the activity enzymes that break down substances holding skin cells together. However, when they treated skin with creams containing the drug Retin-A or steroids such as hydrocortisone before exposure, enzyme activity was not increased.

Although the Food and Drug Administration has not yet agreed that Retin-A may prevent sun damage, FDA approval has been given for marketing a reformulated version of the principal ingredient in Retin-A (tretinoin) under the brand name Renova. The new product does not cause the severe skin drying that is often associated with the use of Retin-A.

Although the study, published in the prestigious British journal Nature, does not prove that wrinkles are necessarily caused by such enzyme activity, it shows that even very low does of sunlight can damage skin.
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Author:Brown, Edwin W.
Publication:Medical Update
Date:Jul 1, 1996
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