Keele University professor's tomato pills will help 'top up' tans
SCIENTISTS have developed a revolutionary new pill to protect thousands of sunbathers from wrinkled skin and help them keep their tans for longer.
Skinfinity is set to be available from next month and has been created by Keele University professor George Truscott and German consultant dermatologist Fritz Boehm.
The pair claim popping a pill a day could help people's skin stay looking young and healthy.
And it is all down to a tomato-based ingredient known as lycopene, which has already proved effective in preventing prostate cancer and heart disease.
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Professor Truscott, who specialises in medicinal chemistry at Keele, said: "One little pill is the equivalent of eating six to eight cooked tomatoes."
Their research has shown that lycopene – the antioxidant which makes tomatoes red – can also fight aggressive forms of oxygen caused by absorbing ultra-violet rays.
It does this by eating up the oxygen to stop it producing the wrinkle-causing chemicals.
"Unlike anti-wrinkle creams, the pills give you protection from the inside out," said Professor Truscott.
"The lycopene builds up in your body and is stored in the fat layer of the skin.
"Of course, if you lived to be 200 years old, you would probably still become wrinkled.
"The other effect that lycopene has on the skin is it interacts with melanin, which gives the pigmentation. It gets the melanin to be produced for longer, so your tan lasts for longer."
Tomatoes have long been seen as one of the benefits of the Mediterranean diet, along with plenty of fresh fish and olive oil.
Now holidaymakers could soon be packing tomato pills in their suitcases to protect them on the beaches of the Med as well.
Yet despite scientific evidence showing lycopene can help stop the onset of certain types of cancer, there is so far no firm link with skin cancer.
Humans are a bit like plants when it comes to exposure to sunlight. Some sunshine will help a plant to grow, but too much will make it wilt. Similarly, human skin gets wrinkles, sags and develops age spots.
Professor Boehm, who works at Humboldt University in Berlin, said: "When you take lycopene, you are protected against the long-term effects of Ultraviolet light."
Skinfinity is the latest lycopene-based pill to be developed by the scientists in North Staffordshire.
Now they have been in touch with tanning salons across the UK to test the market for it. Several salons are interested in stocking the supplement once it is launched after Easter.
Professor Truscott said: "Using a solarium will increase the risk of skin cancer over time, so the perfect solution is don't use them and don't expose yourself to lots of sunlight. But people still will."
Skinfinity will also be sold online and will be available directly from his Keele-based company, George and Partners.
To find out more, call 08000 234235.
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