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Need Sunblock? Slather On Some Strawberries

August 3, 2012
Written by: , Filed in: Musculoskeletal Radiology
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A strawberry extract protects skin cell cultures against damage caused by ultraviolet radiation, according to research by Spanish and Italian scientists.

This particular research team apparently specializes in strawberries. It has shown in previous studies that strawberries strengthen red blood cells and protect the stomach against the effects of alcohol. So have a strawberry margarita for your health, and order an extra one to splash onto your skin for sun protection.

Well, perhaps not. But Maurizio Battino, PhD, DSc, did say:

We have verified the protecting effect of strawberry extract against damage to skin cells caused by UVA rays.

Dr. Battino is an associate professor of biochemistry at the UniversitĂ  Politecnica delle Marche in Ancona, Italy. He was quoted in a news release from the Spanish Foundation for Science and Technology via EurekAlert! The results of the strawberry study were published earlier this year in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.

The researchers added strawberry extract in various concentrations (0.05, 0.25, and 0.50 milligrams per milliliter) to human skin cell cultures (fibroblasts). The samples were then exposed to ultraviolet light “equivalent to 90 minutes of midday summer sun in the French Riviera.”

The strawberry extract, especially in the highest concentration, increased cell survival and viability and decreased DNA damage. “These aspects are of great importance as they provide protection for cell lines subject to conditions that can provoke cancer and other skin-related inflammatory and degenerative diseases,” Dr. Battino said. So a sun-protection cream using strawberry extract may ultimately result.

Researchers suspect the active ingredients are the anthocyanins—red pigments found in leaves, flowers, and fruits such as strawberries. “These compounds have important anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and antitumor properties and are capable of modulating enzymatic processes,” said Sara Tulipani, PhD, another of the study authors.

However, she admitted, “We have not yet found a direct relationship between their presence and photoprotective properties.” Dr. Tulipani is a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Barcelona in Spain.

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