Supplements containing Grape Seed Extract help reduce the chance of cutaneous squamous cell carcinoma, a common form of skin cancer, according to a small epidemiological study that will soon be published in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology. Supplements containing antioxidant vitamins hardly give any protection.
More and more people with fair skin are developing skin cancer. One factor may be the thinning ozone layer, but much more important is the cult of having a tanned body. People of European origin often expose themselves to more natural and synthetic UV radiation than is good for them.
Researchers are still hoping that they can discover nutrients that will protect the skin against cancer. But so far the research is not promising. A big French study, for example, showed that a daily supplement containing 120 mg vitamin C, 30 mg vitamin E, 6 mg beta-carotene, 100 mcg selenium and 20 mg zinc actually increases the risk of skin cancer in women, and only reduces it by a small amount in men. [J Nutr. 2007 Sep; 137(9): 2098-105.]
A group of compounds that has shown promising results in animal and cell studies is the phenols found in tea. But a recent study funded by health insurer Kaiser Permanente Northern California showed that tea had absolutely no protective effect against cutaneous squamous cell carcinoma. [Nutr Cancer. 2011; 63(2): 314-8.]
The same Kaiser Permanente carried out a small study among clients of the company, in which the researchers compared about four hundred people suffering from cutaneous squamous cell carcinoma with a similar number of insured clients who had no skin cancer. When the researchers looked at the use of supplements in the two groups, they noticed that Grape Seed Extract offered protection.
The researchers also examined the difference between and early and advanced forms of this type of cancer, and the extract had the same effect on both kinds.
The researchers stress that their study only gives an indication that Grape Seed Extract may protect the skin against cancer, but that this is certainly not hard evidence. Their study was very small for one thing. The total number of subjects who took Grape Seed Extract was 17. That’s very few, say the researchers themselves.
J Am Acad Dermatol. 2011 Jun 9. [Epub ahead of print].