With the colossal interest in anti-ageing these days, many are quick to spot the signs of ageing than before. But are we fully equipped with the knowledge to fix them? In this article, I would like to talk about the science of ageing and how can we go about fixing them most scientifically.
Molecular Mechanisms in Skin Aging
There are many molecular models and explanation in skin ageing. From cellular senescence, decrease in cellular DNA repair capacity and loss of telomeres, point mutations of extranuclear mitochondrial DNA, oxidative stress, increased frequency of chromosomal abnormalities, single-gene mutations, reduced sugar, chronic inflammation, and so on. Let focus on some important ones for now.
1 Oxidative Stress
Reactive oxygen species (ROS) is a byproduct of the healthy metabolism of oxygen and has essential roles in cell signalling and homeostasis (keeping cell function balanced). But, exposing ourselves to environmental stress such as UV rays, heat exposure, the ROS level can increase dramatically. This tips the balance, and the excessive cell damage starts to occur. This occurrence is known as oxidative stress.
What is the solution to that?
Antioxidants are the reducing agents of ROS, think of it as ghostbusters, it will neutralise the ROS that is in its path. Example of antioxidants is vitamin C, vitamin E, superoxide dismutase, catalase, glutathione peroxidase, and coenzyme Q10. Some natural sources of antioxidants are green tea and aloe vera. However, it is vital to note that studies have shown that excessive antioxidants may do more infliction than good and it seems that optimal source of antioxidants seems to come from diet and not from supplements in pills or tablets. It’s not desirable to completely inactivate all ROS, and antioxidant treatment appears to be beneficial for ageing (including skin ageing) only if the ROS level is reduced to those of healthy cells.
2 DNA Damage
Sun is the source of damage to the skin that we all know by now. At a cellular level, the sun’s photon energy is taken in by the skin cells, and structural rearrangement of nucleotides occurs. They are resulting in defects in the DNA strands. Most plants and animals have an enzyme called the photolyase to repair severe sun damage effectively. We humans, on the other hand, are dependant on another less effective pathway, nucleotide excision repair pathway when they fail to cope with the job at hand, DNA damage and premature skin ageing sets in.
What is the solution to that?
Stem Cell Therapy
Many studies and evidence have shown that fat cells harness the stem cells that could regenerate ageing. It demonstrated that autologous fat grafting rejuvenates the ageing skin and enhances the volume of the skin. Research has also shown that it produces a series of growth factors i.e vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF).
Choosing a sunscreen can be the most difficult things these days since there are heaps of them in the market. But note that there are mainly two types of sunscreens: Physical blockers that work by reflecting UV rays from the sun and contains either zinc oxide or titanium dioxide. The other type of sunscreen contain chemicals, typically aminobenzoic acid, avobenzone, octisalate, octocrylene, and oxybenzone and they work by absorbing UV rays turning them to heat energy.
These days chemical sunscreens are receiving much bad press. For example, Hawaii will be banning the sale or distribution of any sunscreens containing oxybenzone or octinoxate from Jan 1 2021. Oxybenzone was found to be toxic to corals, leading to coral bleaching. The research demonstrated that when Japanese medaka and rainbow trout exposed to a high concentration of oxybenzone, a decreased egg production and a significant reduction in eggs hatching and male turning to female fish. It is also found in treated water, meaning it can pass through the water filtration system. Oxybenzone could be a hormone disruptor which means that it may interfere with your body’s natural hormone production. Its evidence is still at its infancy. At this moment, doctors are not recommending patients to avoid sunscreens with oxybenzone yet. However, we should be aware that oxybenzone is also encountered in other everyday daily products such as plastic, hairsprays and nail polish.