Green Tea and Skin Health
In our youth-obsessed culture, there are countless creams, lotions, vitamins, herbal remedies, and personal care devices that have been advertised as rejuvenators of aging skin. Unfortunately, very few of these skin anti-aging remedies are supported by any rigorous clinical or laboratory research data. Now, a new prospective, randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blinded clinical research study strongly suggests that antioxidant polyphenols from green tea may actually help to protect skin against damage caused by exposure to ultraviolet (UV) light, and may also help to improve overall skin quality.
In this new clinical research study, which appears in the current issue of The Journal of Nutrition, 60 adult female volunteers were randomized into either a control group or an interventional group. The women in the intervention group consumed a beverage fortified with green tea polyphenols (1,402 milligrams of green tea catechins per day), while the women in the control group consumed a beverage that was identical in appearance but which did not contain any green tea polyphenols. Skin protection against UV light damage, skin structure, and skin function were then tested in all of these women at the time they began the study, 6 weeks into the study, and once again 12 weeks into the study.
Skin testing with UV light exposure sufficient to cause redness of normal unprotected skin was performed in both groups of women. (This “erythema response” is a sign of acute UV-induced skin injury.) In the interventional group of women volunteers, skin redness in response to a standard dose of UV light decreased by 16 percent at 6 weeks, and by 25 percent at 12 weeks. Additionally, the elasticity, roughness, scaling, density, and water content of the skin all improved during the course of this study among the women who had been secretly randomized to receive daily green tea polyphenol supplements (when compared to the women in the control group who received the placebo beverage). Daily green tea polyphenol consumption was also shown to increase blood flow and oxygen delivery to the skin, with maximal blood flow improvement occurring about 30 minutes following green tea polyphenol consumption.
In summary, the daily consumption of green tea catechins was shown, in this innovative prospective, randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blinded study, to significantly improve the skin’s injury response to UV light exposure, and also appeared to significantly improve several important clinical aspects of overall skin quality. In addition to promoting healthier and more youthful appearing skin, green tea polyphenols, as I have discussed in previous columns (and in my recent book, A Cancer Prevention Guide for the Human Race), have also been linked to improved cardiovascular health, and may also help to reduce the risk of certain types of cancer.
Disclaimer: As always, my advice to readers is to seek the advice of your physician before making any significant changes in medications, diet, or level of physical activity.
Dr. Wascher is an oncologic surgeon, professor of surgery, cancer researcher, oncology consultant, and a widely published author.