Skin Care and Treatments of Melbourne Dermatology - Oxidative Stress/Damage Theory of Aging Disproven by Study

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Oxidative Stress/Damage Theory of Aging Disproven by Study

The National Institute of Health recognizes 20-30 different theories of aging, among which the "Free Radical" and "Neurohumoral" theories have been given the most support.

Supplement, food and cosmetics industries (a category encompassing cosmeceutical brands) and their consumers have come to regard the Free Radical Theory of Aging as universally accepted.

This acceptance has led to rapid expansion and uptake of products and services with little or no realization that the mechanisms by which antioxidants may work are all still classed as theories.

In reality, science increasingly disproves the current free radical theory of aging and moreover has pointed to harmful effects of some antioxidant use.

Antioxidant skin care use is sometimes clearly deleterious, yet users will maintain their use due to some degree of inattention, reliance on poor or inadequate information, unrealistic product passion, peer factors or a plain inability to equate a relatively high purchase price with uselessness for skin.

One of the prime dermatologic proponents of the free radical theory of aging and moreover it's role in inflammation is Dr. Nicholas Perricone, founder of N.V. Perricone Cosmeceuticals and author of The Wrinkle Cure, among a growing collection of books.

The Free Radical Theory holds that, with accumulated free radical damage and oxidative stress, biochemical and cellular processes begin to do more "incorrect" things as aging damage accumulates.

Researched published by Dr. David Gems of University College London's Ageing Laboratory in the Journal of Genes and Development (see below) finds that antioxidants themselves are not "anti-aging".

In contrast with the universal acceptance of the free radical theory of aging, Dr. Gems states that:

"The fact is that we don't understand much about the fundamental mechanisms of ageing... The free radical theory of ageing has filled a knowledge vacuum for over fifty years now, but it just doesn't stand up to the evidence... One of the hallmarks of ageing is the accumulation of molecular damage, but what causes this damage?... It's clear that if superoxide is involved, it only plays a small part in the story. Oxidative damage is clearly not a universal, major driver of the ageing process. Other factors, such as chemical reactions involving sugars in our body, clearly play a role... It really demonstrates finally that trying to boost your antioxidant levels is very unlikely to have any effect on ageing."

Examples of Superoxide-Scavenging Antioxidants

Skin care products, supplements and foods containing alpha-tocopherol (Vitamin E), ascorbic acid (Vitamin C), propyl gallate and Trolox. (Vitamin E Analogue).

Some Recommendations for Antioxidant Skin Care Use

  • Antioxidants do not reverse aging and increasingly do not appear to prevent aging by themselves, however optimal, careful and managed use may help stimulate your skin's own defenses;

  • If using antioxidants, avoid over-emphasizing the use of any one kind (for example, do not apply a serum containing only Vitamin E or C alone, as these can increase damage) – this usually means using a variety of brands, rather than just one or two;

  • Analogues and derivatives of naturally-occurring antioxidants increasingly appear to be of much less value than nature-identical forms;

  • Avoid use of oxidized antioxidant skin care products – unfortunately, these appear to comprise a significant proportion of those used (stock should be fresh, packaging should omit air – many Vitamin C products should be used within weeks of manufacture, not months);

  • Keep in mind that commonplace use of antioxidant skin care products do not replicate, or only very mildly and transiently reproduce the results of trials published into the ingredients contained within said products;

  • Avoid excessive antioxidant or cosmeceutical skin care use unless your skin is scientifically assessed for irritation (laser doppler allows for this measurement);

  • Never attempt to make your own antioxidant skin care products by purchasing raw materials and combining them into bland base creams or other products – more or stronger is not necessarily better.

Further Information

Antioxidants "Cannot Slow Ageing" – BBC.

Dr. David Gems of University College London's Ageing Laboratory.

A Year of Photoprotection – Results from Topical Vitamin C (as Ascorbic Acid) and Sunscreen Use.

Against the oxidative damage theory of aging

Against the oxidative damage theory of aging: superoxide dismutases protect against oxidative stress but have little or no effect on life span in Caenorhabditis elegans

Doonan R, McElwee JJ, Matthijssens F, Walker GA, Houthoofd K, Back P, Matscheski A, Vanfleteren JR, Gems D.

Institute of Healthy Ageing and Research Department of Genetics, Evolution and Environment, University College London, London WC1E 6BT, United Kingdom;

The superoxide radical (O(2)(-)) has long been considered a major cause of aging. O(2)(-) in cytosolic, extracellular, and mitochondrial pools is detoxified by dedicated superoxide dismutase (SOD) isoforms. We tested the impact of each SOD isoform in Caenorhabditis elegans by manipulating its five sod genes and saw no major effects on life span. sod genes are not required for daf-2 insulin/IGF-1 receptor mutant longevity. However, loss of the extracellular Cu/ZnSOD sod-4 enhances daf-2 longevity and constitutive diapause, suggesting a signaling role for sod-4. Overall, these findings imply that O(2)(-) is not a major determinant of aging in C. elegans.

PMID: 19056880

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