Reducing Sun Poisoning & UV Damage

Written by: SphynxCatVP
Link to original:

The information here is pulled from one of the sections of Chapter 3 in the book Vitamin C, Infectious Diseases, and Toxins by Thomas E. Levey, MD, JD, with additional information from the abstracts of the referenced medical studies. I am quoting (the indented sections) from the book, but I am including the references for each pertinent piece with the appropriate section, rather than at the end of the section as Dr. Levey does in the book.

BTW, I highly recommend getting this book! You can order it online through XLibris or take the ISBN number for the format of your choice and order it through your local bookseller. I've thoroughly "used and abused" my paperback copy and am pleased to say it's holding up VERY well under the stress, so I have no doubts about the quality of the binding process. :)

This is not to say that vitamins will prevent the *pain* associated with UV exposure that some of us get when we're out during the day, but it will reduce or eliminate any actual physical UV damage and sunburn that we get. As with all things, the key is the proper amounts: Vitamin C in powder or capsule form, rather than hard tablets to start with. The amount you'll need will depend on your body's requirement for vitamin C and what form you're taking it in. Tablets, I'd recommend crushing them and mixing them in orange juice or something. You'll probably need more of the tablet form than the other two. Powdered gives you fastest results, because it mixes well with drinks, even though it makes them sour. :) Remember bowel tolerance levels for Vitamin C.

Anyway, here's the pertinent bits I thought would be useful here. The bits highlighted in blue are what I found particularly interesting and relevant, in the context of what I have quoted:

While not a physical substance in the sense of other toxins discussed, radiation is very much a toxic agent that has very clear and pronounced toxic effects. Like the other toxins discussed, the evidence shows clearly that vitamin C can help to prevent the damage induced by radiation and repair the damage that had already occurred from a previous radiation exposure. The specific type of radiation being addressed here is "ionizing radiation", as distinguished from "nonionizing radiation". The nonionizing type includes radiation such as light, radio waves and radar waves. This kind of radiation is generally considered harmless because the effects of such radiation are not pronounced and immediately measurable with current technology. On the other hand, ionizing radiation produces destructive effects, usually measurable as a flood of free radicals including other indicators of oxidative stress and immediate cellular damage. Typical examples of ionizing radiation include X-rays, gamma rays, and particle bombardments from neutrons, electrons, protons or mesons. Glossary

Although not technically classified as a form of ionizing radiation, ultraviolet (UV) light appears to cause a similar type of tissue damage. However, the wavelength of UV light does not allow for great tissue penetration, and the damage inflicted is largely limited to the skin or eyes. Vitamin C appears to play a significant role in lessening this type of radiation damage as well.

Mireles-Rocha et al. (2002) noted that UV radiation absorption is responsible for the production of free radicals glossary in damaged cells. These are the skin cells that become sunburned when exposed to excessive UV radiation. In a trial on healthy human volunteers, the authors looked at the minimal UV dose needed to cause skin reddening (the early stage of sunburn). They found that vitamin C and vitamin E taken orally offered significant protection against this form of radiation damage.

  • Study Authors: Mireles-Rocha, H., I. Galindo, M. Huera, B. Trujillo-Hernandez, A. Elizadle, and R. Cortes-Franco
  • Year of Study: 2002
  • Study Summary: UVB photoprotection with antioxidants: effects of oral therapy with d-alpha-tocopherol and ascorbic acid on the minimal erythema dose.
  • Published in: Acta Dermato-Venereologica 82(1):21-24

Eberlein-Konig et al. (1998) performed a similar study in a double-blind, placebo-controlled manner. Glossary They also found that a vitamin C and vitamin E combination taken orally reduced the free radical-induced sunburn reaction.

  • Study Authors: Eberlein-Konig, B., M. Placzek, and R. Przybilla
  • Year of study: 1998
  • Study Summary: Protective effect against sunburn of combined systemic ascorbic acid (vitamin C) and d-alpha-tocopherol (vitamin E).
  • Published in: Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology 38(1):45-48

Similar research has been conducted on the protective effects of vitamin C against UV-induced skin damage in animals. Moison and Beijersbergen van Henegouwen (2002) found that a topical (versus ingested) application of vitamins C and E provided complete protection against the increase in lipid peroxidation (oxidatitive stress, or free radicals) induced by the exposure of pig skin to UVB (Ultraviolet light, type B) exposure.

  • Study Authors: Moison, RM. and Beijersbergen van Henegouwen GM (2002)
  • Year of Study: 2002
  • Study Summary: Topical antioxidant vitamins C and E prevent UVB-radiation-induced peroxidation of eicosapentataenoic acid in pig skin.
  • Published in: Radiation Research 157(4):402-409

Kobayashi et al. (1996) examined the UVB-induced increase in free radicals and inflammation in mouse skin. They found that injecting a vitamin C derivative prior to UVB exposure significantly reduced a number of laboratory indices of increased oxidative stress.

  • Study Authors: Kobayashi, S., M. Takehana, S. Itoh, and E. Ogata
  • Year of study: 1996
  • Study Summary: Protective effect of Magnesium-L-ascorbyl-2 phosphate against skin damage induced by UVB irradiation.
  • Published in: Photochemistry and Photobiology 64(1):224-228

Neumann et al. (1999) utilized a new biological model for determining the toxicity of ultraviolet light using the embryonic yolk sacs of incubated hen eggs. Although UVB alone induced "severe phototoxic damage", vitamin C "led to a significant and remarkable reduction of the UVB-induced damage." Interestingly, other anti-inflammatory agents were also tested. Aspirin was less effective than vitamin C, and indomethacin, a strong prescription anti-inflammatory drug, showed no protection at all against the UVB-induced toxic effects.

  • Study Authors: Neumann, N., E. Holzle, M. Wallerand., S. Vierbaum, T. Ruzicka and P. Lehmann.
  • Year of Study: 1999
  • Study Summary: The photoprotective effect of ascorbic acid, acetylsalicylic acid, and indomethacin evaluated by the photo hen's egg test.
  • Published in: Photodermatology, Photoimmunology & Photomedicine 15(5):166-170

In studies of the protective effect of vitamin C against UVB toxicity on cells or bacteria in culture, the results were similar to those noted above. In human skin cells, Miyai et al. (1996) looked at a "stable derivative" of vitamin C, finding the derivative improved cell survival significantly after UVB exposure. There were also less large DNA fragments in the debris of cells that were killed.

  • Study Authors: Miyai, E., M. Yanagida, J. Akiyama, and I. Yamamoto
  • Year of Study: 1996
  • Study Summary: Ascorbic acid 2-O-alpha-glucoside, a stable form of ascorbic acid, rescues human kerotinocyte cell line, SCC, from cytotoxicity of ultraviolet light B.
  • Published in: Biological & Pharmaceutical Bulletin 19(7):984-987

In a species of photosynthetic bacteria exposed to UVB, He and Hader found that vitamin C "exhibited a significant protective effect on lipid peroxidation and DNA strand breaks." They also found that the presence of vitamin C resulted "in a considerably higher survival rate" among the irradiated bacteria."

  • Study Authors: He, YY and Hader, DP
  • Year of Study: 2002
  • Study Summary: UV-B-induced formation of reactive oxygen species and oxidative damage of the cyanobacterium Anabaena sp.: protective effects of ascorbic acid and N-acetyl-L-cysteine.
  • Published In: Journal of Photochemistry and Photobiology. B, Biology 66(2):115-124

UV light, like ionizing radiation, can also induce genetic damage and ultimately cause cancer. Dreosti and McGown (1992) observed that vitamin C pretreatment significantly lessened the microscopic evidence of chromosomal damage in irradiated mice and irradiated mouse spleen cells (in vivo and in vitro). glossary

  • Study Authors: Dreosti, I. and M. McGown
  • Year of Study: 1992
  • Study Summary: Antioxidants and UV-induced genotoxicity.
  • Published in: Research Communications in chemical Pathology and Pharmacology 75(2):251-254

Dunham et al. (1982) looked at the effects of supplemented vitamin C on the incidence of UV light-induced skin cancers in mice. They found that vitamin C afforded a "pronounced effect" in "decreasing the incidence and delaying the onset of the malignant lesions" in the mice studied.

  • Study Authors: Dunham, W., E. Zuckerkandl, R. Reynolds, R. Willoughby, R. Marcuson, R. Barth, and L. Pauling.
  • Year of Study: 1982
  • Study Summary: Effects of intake of L-ascorbic acid on the incidence of dermal neoplasms induced in mice by ultraviolet light.
  • Published in: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 79(23):7532-7536

Glossary of selected terms used above

Definitions are courtesy of CancerWeb's online dictionary - term links go right to CancerWeb's online definition if you wish to investigate further.

  • double-blind
    • A kind of clinical study in which neither the participants nor the person administering treatment know which treatment any particular subject is receiving. Usually the comparison is between an experimental drug and a placebo or standard comparison treatment. This method is believed to achieve the most accuracy because neither the doctor nor the patient can affect the observed results with their psychological bias. (In practice, sometimes the results of who has the drug and who doesn't are unavoidably obvious.)
  • electrons
    • Stable elementary particles having the smallest known negative charge, present in all elements; also called negatrons. Positively charged electrons are called positrons. The numbers, energies and arrangement of electrons around atomic nuclei determine the chemical identities of elements. Beams of electrons are called cathode rays or beta rays, the latter being a high-energy biproduct of nuclear decay.
  • free radicals
    • Highly reactive molecules with an unsatisfied electron valence pair. Free radicals are produced in both normal and pathological processes. They are proven or suspected agents of tissue damage in a wide variety of circumstances including radiation, damage from environment chemicals, and aging. Natural and pharmacological prevention of free radical damage is being actively investigated. Lipid peroxidation and oxidatitive stress are terms that mean similar, if not exactly the same, thing as free radicals.
  • gamma rays
    • Very powerful and penetrating, high-energy electromagnetic radiation of shorter wavelength than that of X-rays. They are emitted by a decaying nucleus, usually between 0.01 and 10 mev. They are also called nuclear X-rays.
  • In Vivo
    • Within the living body. (Generally means a live test subject.)
  • In Vitro
    • Within a glass, observable in a test tube, in an artificial environment.
  • mesons
    • Short-lived elementary particles found in cosmic radiation or produced from nuclear disintegration. Their mass is between that of protons and electrons and they can be negative, positive, or neutral. Pi-mesons (pions) are heavier than mu-mesons (muons) and are proposed for cancer radiotherapy because their capture and disintegration by matter produces powerful, but short-lived, secondary radiation.
  • neutrons
    • Electrically neutral elementary particles found in all atomic nuclei except light hydrogen; the mass is equal to that of the proton and electron combined and they are unstable when isolated from the nucleus, undergoing beta decay. Slow, thermal, epithermal, and fast neutrons refer to the energy levels with which the neutrons are ejected from heavier nuclei during their decay.
  • oxidative stress
    • A highly oxidized environment within cells that is thought to promote HIV replication because cells are forced into a highly activated state due to loss of control of their regulatory systems.
  • placebo
    • <pharmacology> Any dummy medical treatment, originally, a medicinal preparation having no specific pharmacological activity against the patients illness or complaint given solely for the psychophysiological effects of the treatment, more recently, a dummy treatment administered to the control group in a controlled clinical trial in order that the specific and nonspecific effects of the experimental treatment can be distinguished i.e., the experimental treatment must produce better results than the placebo in order to be considered effective.
  • protons
    • Stable elementary particles having the smallest known positive charge, found in the nuclei of all elements. The proton mass is less than that of a neutron. A proton is the nucleus of the light hydrogen atom, i.e., the hydrogen ion.


This is the complete information for the book I pulled this information from. Again, I HIGHLY recommend getting a copy for yourself - this is just one of many topics covered in it. And if you're fond of doing weekend (or nightly) bar crawls, you'll be particularly interested in the section on preventing hangovers... :)

  • Vitamin C, Infectious Diseases, and Toxins
  • Thomas E. Levey, M.D., J.D.
  • Publisher: XLibris []
  • ISBN: 1-4010-6963-0

And the direct link (no, I'm not making money off this) to the book on XLibris if you want to order it from them is: