Is Red Wine a Natural “Sunscreen”?

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A new study conducted by Spanish scientists suggests that grapes, and thus red wine, contain compounds known as flavonoids that block chemical changes in the body that are associated with skin damage from the sun. The study, which was published in the May 11 issue of the Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry, says that the flavonoids help prevent the skin from forming “reactive oxygen species.”

“The study supports the idea of using these products to protect the skin from cell damage and death caused by solr radiation,” said study director Dr. Marta Cascanta, a biochemist at the University of Barcelona. The authors say, however, that eating grapes is just as effective as drinking wine.

Ultraviolet A and B radiation has been linked to skin damage including sunburn, wrinkles, and skin cancer. Cascante said that these “encouraging results should be taken into consideration” to develop new skincare products. So, does that mean new sunscreens might be merlot-scented?

Cosmetics and drugs containing grape compounds are already available, but the way they act on cells has not been well understood until now. Cascante says that the study increases “our understanding of the mechanism by which they [flavonoids] act.”

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