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Lutein May Help Prevent Skin Cancer

BOSTON--Lutein, an antioxidant found in dark green leafy vegetables, may protect skin from sun damage, according to a report released by Harvard Medical School. The research was funded by a grant from Des Moines, Iowa-based Kemin Foods, which had announced the award at the 58th Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Dermatology (www.aad.org) in San Francisco, March 13, 2000.

Salvador Gonzalez, Ph.D., M.D., research leader and professor of dermatology at Harvard Medical School, showed that mice fed lutein-rich diets did not develop skin cancer as quickly as control mice when both were subjected to UVB light. UVB light is non-visible sunlight, responsible for producing sunburn, tan, skin cancer and aging changes in the skin. Additionally, when tumors did appear, there were fewer of them in the treatment group than in the control group, and they were smaller in size.

In order for the skin to reap the most benefits from lutein, applying the antioxidant in a topical form is recommended by Kemin. However, the Harvard study was based on ingested lutein only.

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