This Skin-Care Product Just Won a Nobel Prize

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sunscreen-fights-cancerWhen the 2015 Nobel Prize in Chemistry was awarded on October 7, it didn’t just mark a milestone for science—it was also a big step for skin care.

This year’s trio of winners were recognized for mapping out how human DNA repairs itself from damage caused by UV rays and other carcinogens (among other factors). How, exactly, does this impact your a.m. beauty routine?

It turns out that a small but growing group of beauty brands—Estee Lauder and Neova among them—have been incorporating this very research into their products, via DNA repair enzymes.

The enzymes are generally derived from botanical sources such as plankton, mustard green plants, and algae, and they’ve been proven to assist cells in the repair process and—get this—stop skin cancer in its tracks. Let that sink in for a moment.

"After the age of 30, we start greatly declining in [our own] DNA repair enzymes,” explains Dr. Ronald Moy, a Los Angeles-based dermatologist and vice-president of the Skin Cancer Foundation. “Replacing them will not only decrease skin aging but, from a medical standpoint, it’ll really prevent skin cancer.”

He should know—his own DNA repair enzyme-enhanced skincare brand, DNA EGF Renewal, has undergone 20 years of clinical testing and its key enzymes have been proven to drastically reduce pre-cancerous and cancerous cells in research subjects.

So what does this mean for the future of serums—and sunscreens? Here, Dr. Moy explains this breakthrough technology and why one day we may all be treating our skin woes at the DNA level. —Erin Magner

sunscreen-prevents-cancerFor those of us who haven't yet won our Nobel Prize in chemistry (or looked at a chemistry textbook in 10- or 20-plus years), explain the link between DNA repair enzymes and cancer. DNA repair goes on in every cell. So if you take any cancer, from colon cancer to lung cancer, there are studies that show the prognosis is dependent on those patients’ ability to repair their DNA. If you have the BRCA mutation for breast cancer, it’s really a lack of a DNA repair protein. It’s becoming clear that if we can repair our DNA better, we can prevent cancers.

So are you saying that sunscreen isn’t enough to prevent skin cancer? Since the introduction of sunscreen, we haven’t seen a decrease in skin cancer; we’re [still] seeing a lot of skin cancer. There’s a new study that showed in terms of preventing cancer, a sunscreen with DNA repair [enzymes], like DNA EGF Renewal's new DNA Defense SPF 50+ ($80) [Editor's note: This product is currently unavailable, but here's a similar one from DNA EFG.], works a lot better than sunscreen alone. It’s good confirming evidence, since I knew in my gut that sunscreens don’t work that well.

What else can we do to help with our own DNA repair post-30? A study was published in the New England Journal of Medicine a couple of weeks ago that showed people who took 500mg of nicotinamide [vitamin B/niacin] twice a day had increased DNA repair and less skin cancer and actinic keratosis [potentially pre-cancerous lesions caused by sun exposure]. It was convincing enough that I now tell every patient they should take nicotinamide. Also, eat a diet rich in fruits and vegetables—they really do increase DNA repair and are a healthy way to get free radicals out of your system.

Looking for other beauty products that care about preventing cancer? This awesome brand is doing its part. And don't forgo sunscreen just yet—these natural sunscreens are all Well+Good editor-tested and approved.

(Photos: Abigail Keenan/DNA EFG Renewal)

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