Natural antioxidants in preventing skin cancer

Natural antioxidants in preventing skin cancer

In the present scenario, skin cancer incidences have risen exponentially. It is counted in the most common cancers worldwide, ranking second in females and first in males. One of the major risk factors behind this is the constant and intense exposure of skin to the reactive species and oxidative stress arising from endogenous and exogenous sources.

Skin is the largest and major protective organ of the body. It shields the body from injuries, stops the loss of body fluids and regulates the body's temperature. The damaged skin structure significantly affects the protective function of this organ. Dryness, dullness, wrinkles, fine lines and hyperpigmentation are the warning signs of UV-induced damaged skin

It is very important to safeguard the skin from dangerous and cancerous components. To this, a healthy diet and skincare regimen enriched with antioxidants can be proven very beneficial for skin.

Antioxidants are the chemical components, which naturally present in our fruits and vegetables, like cruciferous vegetables and berries. These chemical substances act terrific free radical scavengers and prevent the free radicals induced cell damage.

Let's explore skin cancer in little deep, and which antioxidants lower the risk of skin cancer:

  • Types of skin cancer
  • Major causes of skin cancer
  • Natural antioxidants against skin cancer
  • Antioxidant enriched skin care

Types of skin cancer

Skin cancer usually affects the outermost layer of the skin, known as epidermis. This is why early detection is possible in most skin cancers. The common types of skin cancers are:

  • Squamous cell carcinoma
  • Basal cell carcinoma
  • Melanoma

Squamous cell carcinoma affects the squamous cells, which forms the top layer of the skin. Basal cell carcinoma is the form of cancer that affects basal cells, which are found at the bottom of epidermis. Melanoma is the cancer of cells which gives color to the skin.

The Squamous and basal cell carcinomas together are also known as non-melanoma skin cancers.

Out of these, melanoma is the most common form of skin cancer. This cancer type is also difficult to treat. Talking about deaths associated with skin cancers, this type of skin cancer makes up ¾ of all the deaths.

Major causes of skin cancer

The major causes which lead to these skin cancers are the repeated exposure to UV rays, extreme climate change and harsh pollutants. These causes generate reactive oxygen species and tend to damage the healthy skin cells. Antioxidants can significantly help to neutralize these free radicals and lowers the risk of getting skin cancer.

Natural antioxidants against skin cancer

The intake of adequate quantities of antioxidants from diet significantly affects the formation of free radicals and lowering oxidative stress. There are number of natural antioxidants counted in this context:

Vitamin C

This vitamin is known as the major source of natural antioxidants. The regular consumption of this vitamin significantly raises the antioxidant levels in the body. The consumption of vitamin C is associated with reduced skin formaldehyde content, a potential marker of Oxidative stress.

Its topical application also shows significant improvement in correcting the damaged skin by its potential antioxidant and hyperpigmentation properties.

Also, studies have been shown that application of vitamin C embedded cream doesn't lead to dermal sensitization. Overall, oral and topical vitamin C not only heal the damage done by UV rays, but also improves the skin texture and inflammatory skin conditions.

Sources of vitamin C: Citrus fruits, berries, cruciferous vegetables and spinach.

Vitamin E

Vitamin E provides potential protection from UV rays and associated induced damage via combination of UV absorptive and antioxidant properties.

In an analysis, the treatment antioxidant vitamin E is associated with a significantly reduced number of sunburn to cells. Also, vitamin E exhibits potential skin barrier-stabilizing properties along with improving the epidermal thickness.

Its topical application is also found to be associated with rejuvenating UV-induced skin damage.

Sources of vitamin E: Vegetable oils, nuts, sunflower seeds, spinach and broccoli


Beta-carotene is present majorly in the commercial products formulated for photo protection. Studies done in the context of this phytochemical also showed positive outcomes.

In one analysis, it has been noticed that consumption of 15-30 mg per day for about 12 weeks provided significant protection against UV-induced erythema. Similar effects of beta-carotene also have been noticed among the people who were consuming mixtures of carotenoids for a very long time.

Sources of beta-carotene: Carrots, sweet potatoes, kale, spinach, winter squash, apricots and cantaloupe

Green tea

Studies conducted on green tea polyphenols also exhibited the potential photoprotective properties of green tea. These properties can effectively aid in preventing the UV-induced skin problems, for instance, melanoma, non-melanoma cancer and photoaging.

The topical or oral consumption of green tea is known to inhibit chemical carcinogen and UV-induced skin carcinogenesis. Also, the topical application of green tea lowers the depletion of antioxidant enzymes and oxidation of lipids and proteins.

Other than these, retinoids (vitamin A derivatives), glutathione and coenzyme Q10 are also known to show potential antioxidant activities to lower the risk of skin cancer. Let's take a look on natural sources of these components:

Sources of retinoid: Eggs, whole milk, animal liver, carrot seeds oil and rosehip seed oil

Sources of coenzyme Q10: Salmon, tuna, organ meats and whole grains

Sources of glutathione: Spinach, asparagus, okra and avocado

Include these foods in your day-to-day diet to improve your body's antioxidant levels to protect skin cells from being turned into cancerous forms.

Other than this, you should also concentrate on protecting your skin from outwards. In this, skin care products play a very essential role. Let's take a look on this as well:

Antioxidant enriched skin care

Skin care is a very important aspect to protect the skin from harmful sun rays and pollutants. Let's take a look at essential skin care products that must be there in your skin care regimen to protect it from these environmental aggressors.

  • Always apply a broad spectrum sunscreen, a sun protection formula. It will protect your skin from UV rays direct contact. The FDA has recommended some points to get best out of a sunscreen. Must remember these while applying sunscreen.

  • Apply skin care products like face serums or night creams embedded with vitamin C, E or green tea and beta-carotene extracts. These will help to repair your damaged skin and again make your skin robust and strong.

  • Always cover the parts exposed to the sun, when going out under the sun.

These are some of the points which are really essential to follow to keep skin protected and intact

Eat and live healthily and guard your skin from this deleterious disease, cancer

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