Natural, plant-based agents that could be used in manufacturing skin cancer-preventing sunscreens are being studied by scientists.
Scientists at The University of Texas Health Science Center San Antonio report that certain plant substances, which occur naturally in grapes, berries, walnuts and a number of other plant-based foods, were tested on mice.
These mice had been genetically manipulated to be sensitive to skin cancer initiation and promotion/progression. Given in combination, even at low doses, the plant agents proved protective.
"On the basis of our research, supplements and creams or sunscreens may be developed, tested in humans and then used to prevent skin cancer," said Zbigniew Walaszek.
These agents include resveratrol (found in the skin of red grapes and grape seeds), calcium D-glucarate (present in many fruits and vegetables) and ellagic acid, found in a host of berries and in walnuts.
The team evaluated thickness in the outer layer of the skin that indicates multiplying cancerous cells. They also monitored mutations in Ha-ras an oncogene that indicates cancer initiation, and inflammation.
"The combined inhibitory effects of different plant chemicals are expected to be particularly beneficial to, for example, smokers, former smokers or individuals with heavily tanned skin, who carry thousands of cells already initiated for malignant transformation," Margaret Hanausek said.
"Our next step is to go to an ultraviolet B light model of skin cancer initiation and confirm our results," Walaszek said.