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Strawberries and cream: Sun lotion made from popular fruit could be more effective


Strawberries and cream have long been a winning combination.

But according to new scientific research, these two fabled constituents of summer could also come together in a more useful way – by protecting us from harmful UV rays.

The fruit has been discovered to work well against sunburn – and could be used to create more effective suntan lotions.

Strawberry extract provides protection against ultraviolet radiation and reduces skin damage from over-exposure to the sun, researchers said yesterday.

Italian and Spanish scientists prepared human skin cell cultures and added strawberry extract in concentrations of 0.05, 0.25 and 0.5 milligrammes per millilitre.

Study leader Maurizio Battino, of the Universita Politecnia delle Marche in Italy, said: ‘We have verified the protecting effect of strawberry extract against damage to skins cells caused by UVA rays.’

Using ultraviolet light, the samples were then exposed to a dose equivalent to 90 minutes of midday summer sun in the French Riviera.

Data confirmed that the strawberry extract, especially at a concentration of 0.5 mg/ml, protected against UVA radiation. It also increased cell survival and decreased damage in the DNA when compared with cells not protected by strawberry extract. 

Mr Battino said: ‘These aspects are of great importance as they provide protection for cell lines subject to conditions that can provoke cancer and other skin-related inflammatory and degenerative illnesses.’

Effective suncreams should protect against UVA and UVB light – the two types of ultraviolet rays that cause sunburn and increase the risk of skin cancer.

UVA rays are less powerful than UVB but penetrate deeper into the skin and can age the skin prematurely. UVB are absorbed by the top layer of skin, which releases chemicals that cause swelling, pain and redness.

The sun protection factor, or SPF, is a measurement of the amount of UVB protection. In the UK, UVA protection is measured with a star rating.

The scientists, whose findings are published in the Journal of Agricultural Food Chemistry, say their discovery opens the way for development of suntan cream made from strawberries. They believe that pigments called anthocyanins give strawberries their sun protection properties. They also give leaves, flowers and fruit their red colour.

Co-author Sara Tulipani, from the University of Barcelona, said: ‘These compounds have important anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and anti-tumour properties.’

She said: ‘At the moment the results act as the basis for future studies evaluating the ‘bioavailability’ and ‘bioactivity’ of anthocyanins in the dermis and epidermis layers of the human skin, whether by adding them to formulations for external use or by ingesting the fruit itself.’

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