Avoiding sun damage to the skin has many advantages: it prevents premature ageing and reduces the chances of disease. That’s why we rush off to buy sunscreens when the warm weather comes along. But omega-3 fatty acid, found in nuts and fish oils, may play a significant role in protecting our skin from the sun.
This is, at least, the evidence reported for a recent study led by Dr Lesley Rhodes of the University of Manchester (England). The sun induces immunosuppression in the skin, preventing the body from using natural means to fight against infections and cancer. Volunteers who took part in the experiment consumed 4 g of omega-3 daily and were exposed to simulated sunlight from a machine. It was demonstrated that immunosuppression was halved in periods of exposure of up to 15 minutes; for periods of 30 minutes the beneficial effects were not so evident. In view of the results, Dr Rhodes believes that regular intake of omega-3 can reduce our skin cancer risk throughout life. However, it cannot be considered a substitute for sunscreen – simply an extra measure of prevention to keep our skin healthy.