Deodorants and antiperspirants seem to be constantly in the line of fire in regards to cosmetics with potential dangers to our health. Parabens in cosmetics was discussed previously (read all about it HERE), where we concluded that as long as … Continue reading
I’ve long wanted to do a review of weleda’s pomegranate hand-cream, and as winter is approaching- I know it’s still October, but in Norway the cold rains and dark mornings of late are getting more and more winterish- and so … Continue reading
As a medical student, I’ve had to pull a few all-nighters in my time.. no that is a lie, I’ve never really succeeded at all-nighters, (a thorn in my side of late night exam studying) my demand for sleep is … Continue reading
ROKer Roosa asked for my take on the harmful effects of Parabens, something I’ve been curious about my self, and I’m more than happy to have a closer look at. There’s been a lot of focus on parabens in cosmetics … Continue reading
ROKer- Roosa, asked:
“Are you worried about products containing coumarin? I know there’s been quite a bit of back and forth on its toxicity, but it is widely used. What’s your take? Also, a post on your take on the teratogenic effects of parabens would be highly appreciated”
I’m very exited about this question! The dangers of PABA’s are in the wind these days, and coumarin is an ingredient I need to know more about, so this question is right up my ally!
Lets have a look at Coumarin first, as I think a post on both would be a little science heavy for one day.
Coumarin (anhydride of o-coumaric acid) is a white, crystalline lactone, obtainable naturally from several plants, such as tonka bean, lavender, sweet clover grass, strawberries, and cinnamon, or produced synthetically from an amino acid, phenylalanine. Coumarin has a characteristic odour like that of vanilla beans. It is used for the preparation of flavours and fragrances.
Coumarin is a widely used fragrance ingredient. It was found in 57% of 73 deodorants on the European market in a 1998 published study (Rastogi et al 1998). It is also used in medicine as an anticoagulant (inhibitor of blood-clot formation).
There are a number of articles on the effects of coumarin, ranging from hepatotoxic effects (liver toxic), when ingested in foods in higher quantities, to being used as a treatment modality in cancer! Coumarin has been established to be moderately toxic to the liver and kidneys, with a “Median Lethal Dose” of 275 mg/kg, which is low compared to related compounds.
Regarding skin, it is only somewhat associated to hypersensitivity, or allergies, as found by the European Commission – Health & Consumer protection Directorate: “Coumarin has caused allergic reactions on 1.2 – 6.8% of patients suspected for fragrance contact allergy, (ref.: SCCNFP/0017/98 and 11). “
Coumarin is prohibited as an additive to food, and is restricted in cosmetics, due to its activity as a skin- allergen (substance causing allergy).
Since it is only moderately associated to skin allergies, I’m not very concerned with the appearance of coumarin in cosmetics, as most individuals will not be affected by it, and because there are no substantial evidence of coumarin as a carcinogen (agent causing cancer). Coumarin is also not bioaccumulative, so it will not build up in our body past exit from it. Rather than being harmful it has been associated to restored function in macrophages (scavenger cells of the immune system), skin-tumor suppression in both mouse skin pappilomas as well as in human melanoma cells, antibacterial activity, in addition to having broad anticancer effects in a number of non-skin cancers, such as breast and stomach.
Chemical composition and antibacterial activity of the essential oils from Launaea resedifolia L
Amar Zellagui,1 Noureddine Gherraf,1 Segni Ladjel,2 and Samir Hameurlaine2
Org Med Chem Lett. 2012; 2: 2.
Published online 2012 January 20. doi: 10.1186/2191-2858-2-2
Anti-oncogenic potentials of a plant coumarin (7-hydroxy-6-methoxy coumarin) against 7,12-dimethylbenz［a］anthracene-induced skin papilloma in mice: the possible role of several key signal proteins
Journal of Chinese Integrative Medicine: 2010; 8(7): 645-654
Polymeric nanoparticle encapsulation of a naturally occurring plant scopoletin and its effects on human melanoma cell A375
Journal of Chinese Integrative Medicine: 2010; 8(9): 853-862
Studies on Cancer Chemoprevention by Traditional Folk Medicines XXIV.—Inhibitory Effect of a Coumarin Derivative, 7-Isopentenyloxycoumarin, against Tumor-Promotion
Masaki Baba1), Yongri Jin1), Atsuo Mizuno1), Hisaya Suzuki1), Yoshihito Okada1), Nobuo Takasuka2), Harukuni Tokuda3), Hoyoku Nishino3), Toru Okuyama1)
Biological and Pharmaceutical Bulletin
Vol. 25 (2002) No. 2 P 244-246
HEALTH & CONSUMER PROTECTION DIRECTORATE-GENERALSCCP /0935/05
Directorate C – Public Health and Risk Assessment
C7 – Risk assessment
I am proud to announce that an article, on which I have been lucky enough to collaborate, has now been published! As I mentioned in my short post about my thesis, I have been working as a research assistant at the department of immunology at my university in Debrecen, Hungary. It’s been an ongoing project for 4 years, which has now come to an end with a publication in the Journal: ‘Melanoma Research’!!!! And I am stoked! It was published a week ago, but I was not made aware of it before today (when I entered my own name in the search field on pubmed). I am still under restrictions as to what I can tell you about it, but now you can read it yourself from the online version of the journal HERE !
The Abstract reads: In the last three decades, the incidence of melanoma has increased worldwide and no effective treatment modalities have been developed yet. All-trans retinoic acid (ATRA) and polyinosinic:polycytidylic acid (polyI:C) are strong inducers of toll-like receptor 3 (TLR3) and MDA5 expression, and polyI:C-induced TLR3 and MDA5 signaling specifically causes cell death in melanoma cells in vitro. We addressed the question of whether ATRA pretreatment could enhance the efficacy of polyI:C and, if so, would ATRA have any additional effects on this process. We found that the combined treatment of human melanoma cells with ATRA and polyI:C strongly increased the expression of TLR3 and MDA5 in both WM35 and WM983A cells associated with significantly higher mRNA and secreted levels of interferon β (IFNβ), CXCL1, CXCL8/IL-8, CXCL9, and CXCL10 than cells treated with either ATRA or polyI:C. Silencing of MDA5 by siRNA moderately affected IFNβ secretion, whereas TLR3 knockdown interfered with both CXCL chemokine and IFNβ production. Furthermore, the supernatants of ATRA+polyI:C-activated cultures increased the migration of both human monocyte-derived macrophages and CD1a dendritic cells significantly as compared with the supernatants of cells treated with either ATRA or polyI:C, and this effect occurred in a TLR3-dependent manner. In conclusion, consecutive treatment with ATRA and polyI:C results in strong, TLR3/MDA5-mediated chemokine and IFN responses in cultured human melanoma cells, which triggers a functional migratory response in professional antigen-presenting cells. This novel mode of concomitant activation may represent a more efficient treatment option for future melanoma therapy.
*ATRA: all-trans-retinoic-acid. A derivative of vitamin A. It seems the effects of vitamin A go beyond those of anti-aging, and acne- curing in the skin. Check out my post about the anti-aging and anti-acne effects of Retinoic Acid, HERE.
This day has started on a rather awesome note. I’m so happy I don’t even mind unpacking all my baggage!
I’ll be back later today with an answer to a ROKer question, so stay tuned for that!
Have a lovely day!
“And I say, it’s alright.”
Aaaand I’m back with a post on the Sun! Only this time I’ll be focusing on the positive effects! (Can I get an Amen?!)
I know the sun’s reputation is getting increasingly worse, and I’ve been adding fuel to that fire with my latest 2 posts on the Sun and the Skin, I know. The truth is, the sun isn’t all bad. I’m not going to back off on the use of sunscreen or anything, I’ll stay fairly firm on that, but I don’t believe in extremes of anything in life, including UV avoidance, (and with that sentence, I made the world wide dermatological community, collectively gasp for air).
So here comes a ray of light in your SPF prison, a beacon of hope to your life in the shade, a flash of inspiration through your tinted lenses, a.. (all right, I’ll stop now).
I shall sum up the benefits, as I see them
1. Sunlight gives you Vitamin D. (This is a long one, bear with me)
The sun, or UVB radiation to be precise, is responsible for conversion of pre-vitamin D in the skin, into active vitamin D3. Adequate sun exposure is important for maintenance of our vitamin D levels, this is especially important in at-risk groups such as those who are elderly, who avoid the sun for medical reasons, or those who have dark skin.
A 2005 position statement from the Cancer Council Australia is the first by a national cancer council to recognize the importance of balance in recommendations about sun exposure — i.e. to avoid an increased risk of skin cancer, but to have sufficient UVR exposure to maintain adequate vitamin D levels.
The role of vitamin D to our overall health is complex. Vitamin D exerts positive effects at a number of locations in our body, and deficiency is related to everything from Rickets (a disease characterized by bone deformities and fractures), psychological disease, immunological disease, and asthma to cancer! There is growing evidence that vitamin D exerts protective effects against cancer. UVB radiation, which is required for vitamin D production in the skin, was found to be inversely associated with cancer incidence and mortality. Circulating vitamin D levels, were also associated with improved survival in colorectal and lung cancer patients, and has been shown protective in as much as 17 different cancer types.
In the skin, Vitamin D replenishes hydration and boosts elasticity, helps smooth fine lines and wrinkles, enhances the skin’s radiance, corrects acne scars, and helps correct sun damage and dark spots. These effects are mostly seen when serums of the vitamin is applied to skin directly.
2. It may help in certain skin diseases: Photo therapy, or UV light therapy is used in a number of dermatological clinics for treatment of diseases such as psoriasis (a condition where the skin sheds its cells too quickly and develops itchy, scaly patches), vitiligo (lack of pigment), and in severe cases of body acne. It has also shown to have antibacterial effects, and has been associated with therapeutic effect in cases of topical tuberculosis.
3. It makes you happy! I’ll put an appropriately here. Much of this effect is due to increased levels of vitamin D following sunlight exposure, but in recent research it has been pointed out that Serotonin – our happy hormone, as well as Melatonin – a hormone involved in the control of proper sleeping patterns, dreaming, and has also been attributed to keeping aging processes at bay, are secreted in higher amounts after sunlight exposure. Last summer I took part in a dermatology conference, and I remember one of the speakers recommending time in the sun, especially after 3 o clock, as that is when the infrared radiation is the strongest and the UVB the weakest, and although you wont get as much vitamin D production happening at this time, infrared radiation he said, would make us feel good and happy.
4. It may keep you young. Vitamin D again, has been found to regulate a number of genes in our body, some of which are associated to aging better. Vitamin D has this effect on our bones, our skin and on our hair where the effect is aiding skin to guard against invasion by microorganisms and it elicits hair growth and cycling to shield against the age-related damages from UV irradiation.
So there you are! (And you’re welcome!) A number a positive effects have been shown to be associated to sunlight, but this doesn’t mean you now suddenly wont look old after a life of unprotected sun worship, we just need to know how much sun exposure is enough to get the beneficial effects without the danger of also getting the bad ones. The recommendations for exposure time to levels of vitamin D production are:
For pale skin, the exposure time in the summer noonday sun in the southern United States is about 4-10 minutes a day; for dark skin, such as for African Americans, the corresponding time is 60- 80 minutes. The length of time varies with geographical location, skin pigmentation, percent body fat, and age. The best time of day for vitamin D production is near solar noon, when the ratio of UVB to UVA is highest. Typically, vitamin D3 can be produced from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. during the spring, summer, and fall. In Norway, where I’m from, the recommended time frame is around 30 min, if you have a darker skin tone then 40-50 minutes should be efficient.
My dad the pharmacist, takes vitamin D3 daily, and has been pushing those little white pills on me for a while now. I’ve obediently taken them with my breakfeast juice when at home, and then more or less forgotten about them when back in my city of study. I shall now make sure to eat them daily. Gosh, I really do think too little emphasis has been made by the medical community concerning vitamin D, and I’m glad research is pointing to a change in that regard.
Remember though to eat activated vitamin D3 supplements, not D2 or anything else that is not D3, as those will not have the same effect on your body, and have even been associated with negative effects!
You can get your vitamin D for $12.49 here,
Vitamin D3 5000 IU (5000IU, 100 capsules) - , and it ships worldwide -
PoHealth is also hosting a web offer right now ending the 22 of July, where you get 20% off all vitamin purchases worth $75 20% Off $75 Vitamin Orders at ProHealth.com. Expires 7/22/2012
Vitamin D Deficiency as a Strong Predictor of Asthma in Children
Received: October 20, 2010
Accepted after revision: December 29, 2010 Published online: October 6, 2011
Abdulbari Benera, c Mohammad S. Ehlayelb Meri K. Tulicd Qutayba Hamide
The nuclear vitamin D receptor controls the expression of genes encoding factors which feed the “Fountain of Youth” to mediate healthful aging
Mark R. Haussler,a,* Carol A. Haussler,a G. Kerr Whitfield,a Jui-Cheng Hsieh,a Paul D. Thompson,a Thomas K. Barthel,a Leonid Bartik,a Jan B. Egan,b Yifei Wu,a Jana L. Kubicek,a Christine L. Lowmiller,a Eric W. Moffet,a Ryan E. Forster,a and Peter W. Jurutkab
Published online 2010 March 20. doi: 10.1016/j.jsbmb.2010.03.019
The benefits and risks of ultraviolet (UV) tanning and its alternatives: the role of prudent sun exposure
Dermatol Clin. 2009 April; 27(2): 149–vi.
Epidemiology of Vitamin D Insufficiency and Cancer Mortality
- STEFAN PILZ,
- ANDREAS TOMASCHITZ,
- BARBARA OBERMAYER-PIETSCH,
- HARALD DOBNIG and
- THOMAS R. PIEBER
Anticancer Research September 2009 vol. 29 no. 9 3699-3704
Is the current public health message on UV exposure correct?
Robyn M LucasI,1; Mike H RepacholiII; Anthony J McMichaelI
Bull World Health Organ vol.84 no.6 Genebra June 2006
ANTICANCER RESEARCH 26: 2723-2728 (2006)
UV Radiation and Cancer Prevention: What is the Evidence?
R. KRAUSE1, B. MATULLA-NOLTE1, M. ESSERS1, A. BROWN1 and W. HOPFENMÜLLER2
Impact of UVA exposure on psychological parameters and circulating serotonin and melatonin
Thilo Gambichler*, Armin Bader, Mirjana Vojvodic, Falk G Bechara, Kirsten Sauermann, Peter Altmeyer and Klaus Hoffman
BMC Dermatology 2002, 2:6 doi:10.1186/1471-5945-2-6
Benefits and Requirements of Vitamin D for Optimal Health: A Review
William B. Grant, PhD, and Michael F. Holick, PhD, MD
Here I am with my two colleagues for 4 years from the Immunology Department at my medical school in Debrecen, Hungary. Happy, relieved, and looking mighty tanned!
I’ll post more info. about the nature of my research at a later date, as it’s still somewhat ‘hush-hush’, but I will tell you its about melanoma, and includes the investigation of a future treatment modality! Yup, super relevant, and very interesting. I’ve been so lucky to have my great tutor Attila by my side in thick and thin, and I will truly miss going to the institute for lab work and tea-dates.
It’s been a fun ride! And now, all that remains to wrap it all up, is a publication..
After my post on the skin and the sun, “Cookie Monster” asked:
When i go running i use a sunscreen called ‘Riemann P20′. Its great because all you do is shake it before use, its almost like a liquid/oil/fluid of some sort, and dries quickly and i don’t seem to ‘sweat it off’. Is this a product you would recommend? A friend of mine mine swears by P20 and tells me her children have never been sunburned, but only if they wait about half an hour or an hour before they go out in the sun. She claims they only need to put it on once a day (so she won’t have to obsess about using sun screen on her kids every 30 min at the beach). What is your opinion about this?
Only negative thing about this sunscreen is that it doesn’t smell too good. It smells a little gasoline-like or like nail polish remover. Can that be good for the skin?”
First of all “Cookie Monster”, thank you so much for bringing up this concern! I hadn’t heard of this sunscreen before you asked me about it, and now I’m very happy you did. It was quite an educational adventure doing this assessment.
The active ingredient of Riemann P20 is called PABA (Para-aminobenzoic acid). It occurs naturally in the body as a B complex vitamin otherwise know as vitamin Bx. It can also be found in eggs, meat and cereals and it is minimally toxic.
In sunscreens PABA acts as a dye that absorbs UVB light energy and converts it into heat as a function of its benzene ring (hence the gasoline smell It does this with 95% efficacy according to the manufacturer, given that you apply the sunscreen a whole 90 minutes prior to sun exposure (jeez, that’s a long time!).
I’ve summarized my findings of Riemann P20 into ‘yay’ and ‘nay’ categories for simplicity.
- Protects against UVB rays with high efficacy.
- PABA’s have been used to reduce skin lesions associated with dermatitis (eczema)
- Have been used in mending skin discoloration in Vitiligo (disease in which person lacks skin pigment)
- It protects against UVB radiation ONLY! This stops you from burning, while letting you tan, but the cumulative effect of unhindered UVA radiation can be severely damaging as it has been shown to not only be responsible in large part for the aging process of photo aging, but its role in skin cancer development is also becoming more and more evident.
- Also, only effective if applied 90 minutes before exposure. Outrageous! Who has time to wait 90 minutes from application before leaving the house? Or is it only me that end up with 15 min to go before I have to be somewhere? (don’t answer that if yes)
- According to ‘Clinical Dermatology’ PABA can lead to skin abnormalities including discoloration to cancer (gasp!)
- PABA contributes to the release of oxygenated free radicals, which are linked, to increased skin pigmentation and aging.
- Like all chemicals, PABA might induce allergic reactions. According to a recent article PABA was recognized as both a topical (effect from applying it on skin) photo sensitizer but also a systemic (when ingested, inhaled etc) one. Topically applied, PABA was introduced as one of the first chemical sunscreen agents in the 1920s, gaining wide usage after World War II. In the course of time, however, PABA became one of the most common causative substances of photo allergic contact dermatitis (sun induced skin allergy) due to sunscreens. Increasing awareness of its photo sensitization properties led to a switch to PABA-free sunscreens during the eighties after a 1989 FDA report stated that PABA esters damage DNA, thus increasing risk of skin cancer.
- Alcohol Denat is one of the ingredients and is a known irritant.
- Also contains Hydroxypropyl Cellulose , a comedogenig agent (meaning it can block your pores and give you pimples)
Phew! That was a mighty long nay list!
To answer your question plainly dearest “Cookie Monster”, I wouldn’t recommend Riemann P20 based on the evidence I found researching it, there are other sunscreens on the market containing both UVB and UVA protective agents that are fast absorbing and sweat proof for your running sessions.
My recommendation for your runs is the La Roche Posay ANTHELIOS XL SPF 50+ FLUIDE EXTREME For Face (this sunscreen has been voted the best in the world!) I haven’t tried it myself yet as I like to stick to physical sunscreens more, but I have a friend who loves this.
If you would like to continue using your Riemann P20 I recommend you to use another sunscreen on top, perhaps one with a physical filter so to ensure your not getting any of those aging UVA rays while your keeping the rest of your body in shape.
My favorite at the moment is Skinceuticals Physical Fusion UV Defense SPF 50
But as this is at Mr.ROK’s appartment in London I wasn’t able to include it in my current suncare products post.
I hope you got an answer you’re happy with dearest ROKer! Even if it means thinking of switching sunscreen.
The Mechanisms of UV Mutagenesis
Hironobu IKEHATA* and Tetsuya ONO
J. Radiat. Res., 52, 115–125 (2011)
Uro-dermatological problems of a construction worker: paraaminobenzoic acid as a systemic photosensitizer
European Journal of Dermatology. Volume 20, Number 2, 217-9, March-April 2010, Clinical report
DOI : 10.1684/ejd.2010.0876
Author(s) : Johanna Stoevesandt, Natalie Kürzinger, Eva Bettina Bröcker, Axel Trautmann , Department of Dermatology, Venereology and Allergology, University of Würzburg, Josef-Schneider-Straße 2, D – 97080 Würzburg, Germany.
Morphological and Biochemical Changes During Aging and Photoaging of the Skin of C57BL/6J Mice
2010 The Japanese Society of Toxicologic Pathology – Ayako Sayama, 1 Tomomi Soushin, 1 Taro Okada, 1 Kunio Doi, 1 and Hiroyuki Nakayama 1
Effect of UVA irradiation on proliferation and NO/iNOS system of human skin firbroblast
CHEN Minglian, ZHANG Buiying, YI Mei, CHEN Xiao, LI Ji, XIE Hongfu, CHEN Xiang
J Cent South Univ (Med Sci) 2009, 34 (8)
“Orlando Sentinel” Cancer experts fear report will cause sunscreen scare;
Alex Beasly; March 1989
It is summer, and so the sun is shining quite fiercely here in my city of residence. Being passionate about skin consequently makes me preoccupied with the sun, and how to best protect my self from it. I have decided … Continue reading