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Study shows risk of UV can be reduced by antioxidant pre-treatment

By Simon Pitman , 08-Dec-2010

Researchers in the US say that a protein responsible for the proliferation of skin cancer could be pre-treated with antioxidants as a means of cutting the risk.

The study, conducted by the Medical College of Georgia, also shows that UV exposure has a cumulative effect into old age, highlighting the importance of constant UV protection.

Research led by Dr. Wendy Bollag pinpointed the fact that accumulative UV exposure activates an enzyme that can help skin cancer cells to survive and proliferate.

Antioxidant pre-treatment can reduce proliferation of cancer cells

The study, which was published in the journal Oncogene, highlights how antioxidants, now commonly used in many sun care products, can be used to pre-treat skin cells to reduce a protein the researchers have identified as having a key role in the proliferation of skin cancer cells.

That protein is kinase D, and the research has shown that the more UV exposure, the more enzyme activity there is in this particular protein.

Skin cells make protein kinase D to help regulate growth needed to replace cells that are constantly dying off, which is a crucial and healthy part of the skin rejuvenation.

Good effect, bad effect...

However, Bollag explained that this constant activity enables skin cells to survive the constant onslaught of UV rays, which is good for skin cell replacement, but can also have a negative impact.

This is because, by promoting the cell survival, protein kinase D can enable skin cells with a lot of DNA damage to become cancerous by reducing the natural ability of badly damaged skin cells to self destruct, the researcher shows.

From closely studying this phenomenon, Bollag’s team have found that pre-treating basal cell carcinoma - a common non-melanoma skin cancer - with antioxidants, appears to reduce protein kinase D activation by UV, indicating that it affects the free radicals resulting from the excessive skin cell activity.

The researchers say they are now looking into the UV’s impact on protein kinase D in the more serious melanoma cancers.