Broccoli Extract Prevents Sunburn

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"The doctor of the future will give no medicine, but will interest his patients in the care of the human frame, in diet and in the cause and prevention of disease."
- Thomas Edison

Professor asked to resign because he advocates moderate exposure to sunlight.

  For information on vitamin D, see the website of the Vitamin D Council.

 

 
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December 27, 2007  
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Dear Reader,

The sunscreen industry should be very proud of itself: I can't think of many other completely useless products that the vast majority of people are absolutely convinced that they need. But I suppose it was an easy sell: After a bad sunburn or two, the idea of preventing another one with a simple slathering of lotion seems like a welcome solution - - especially since the so-called experts have also been warning us for years that the sun will give us cancer.

Of course, you and I both know that there's no proof that sunscreens prevent skin cancer. What they DO prevent is your body from absorbing the sun's vitamin-D-producing UV rays. Now, though, it looks like there might be a way to get the best of both worlds -- with broccoli. And, in this case, you don't even have to eat it to get the protective effects.

Recent research from Johns Hopkins University showed that topical application of a broccoli extract can reduce the redness caused by UV damage (a.k.a. "sunburn") by more than 37 percent.

But what makes broccoli extract a good alternative to sunscreen is that it doesn't block the sun's UV rays -- it boosts your body's own defenses against them. Which means you still get the vitamin D benefits of the sun with less risk of sunburn and the resulting skin and cellular damage.

Even better, the researchers found that the effects of the broccoli extract were much longer-lasting than sunscreens. In fact, the study participants were exposed to UV radiation between two and three days AFTER they'd been treated with the broccoli extract, and they still experienced a significant protective effect.

The compound in the extract primarily responsible for these benefits is called sulphoraphane. While it only stays in the tissues for a few hours after application, the researchers believe that it stimulates proteins within cells that continue to protect them against UV damage long after the extract itself is gone from the system.

Unfortunately, as far as I can tell, topical broccoli extract isn't available to consumers just yet, but hopefully it will be in the near future. In the meantime, you still need UV rays to help your body produce vitamin D. So go ahead and continue to follow Dr. Wright's advice: Get around 20 minutes or so of sun exposure per day on your bare face and arms. When your skin turns slightly pink, head back in.

And for those of you living in areas where it's too cold right now to go anywhere for 20 minutes with your face and arms exposed, Dr. Wright recommends taking 2,000-3,000 IU of vitamin D per day. For more complete details on Dr. Wright's vitamin D advice, refer back to the November 2003 issue of Nutrition & Healing, which subscribers can access for free by visiting the Archives section of the website (www.wrightnewsletter.com) and logging on with the username and password listed in your most recent newsletter.



Yours in good health,

Amanda Ross
Editor
Nutrition & Healing

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Sources:
"Broccoli-sprout derived extract protects against ultraviolet radiation," Science Daily (www.sciencedaily.com), 10/23/07
"Sulforaphane mobilizes cellular defenses that protect skin against damage by UV radiation," Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 2007; 104(44) : 17,500- 17,505

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