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A randomized, controlled trial conducted in Nambour, Australia, provides the first evidence that regular sunscreen use retards skin aging in healthy, middle-aged men and women.
A total of 903 adults younger than 55 years of age were randomly assigned to one of four study groups: (1) daily use of broad-spectrum sunscreen plus daily ingestion of 30 mg of β-carotene, (2) daily use of sunscreen plus daily placebo, (3) discretionary use of sunscreen plus daily ingestion of 30 mg of β-carotene; and (4) discretionary use of sunscreen plus daily placebo. The primary outcome was change in photoaging from 1992 to 1996, measured by change in microtopography as graded by assessors blinded to treatment allocation.
Participants in the daily sunscreen groups showed no detectable increase in skin aging after 4.5 years. Skin aging from baseline to the end of the trial was 24% less in the daily sunscreen group than in the discretionary sunscreen group (relative odds, 0.76; 95% CI, 0.59–0.98). Although β-carotene supplementation had no overall effect on skin aging, a small slowing or accelerating effect could not be ruled out.
Ann Intern Med. 2013;158(11):781-90.