Thursday, July 3, 2008

Tea May Offer Protection Against Sun’s Harmful Rays

Dermatologists and skin cancer specialists have recognized for years, in laboratory, animal and human studies, that black and green tea polyphenols are effective at helping to protect the skin against UV radiation from the sun. So while you may want to drink tea to stay hydrated in the sun, perhaps it can offer some other important benefits this summer.

To date, the research on tea and skin cancer protection has primarily focused on applying tea topically. What researchers have seen is that treating skin with gels or extracts made from tea polyphenols helps reduce the number of sunburn cells and damage to DNA that forms after UV radiation to the skin.

There have been several laboratory cell culture studies that show tea polyphenols induce cell death and cell arrest in tumor cells, but spare normal cells. In addition, animal studies have revealed that treatment with green tea inhibits tumor incidence and multiplicity in different organ sites, including the skin. Recent studies at the University Kiel in Germany have isolated a pathway by which green tea polyphenols reduce DNA damage in human living skin cell equivalents. And University of Arizona researchers have even found that drinking black tea significantly lowered risk of squamous cell carcinoma, a form of skin cancer.

At this time, it’s still recommended to use broad-spectrum sunscreen to protect your skin against UV rays. However, for potential added protection, enjoy your iced tea—made from brewed black or green tea. And if you do get burned, you can always soothe your skin with black or green tea. Brew tea at full strength and allow to cool; remove any clothing that could be stained by tea; dab a cloth into the tea then pat onto the areas of burned skin.

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