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Suncream may be linked to Alzheimer's disease, say experts


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Suncream may be linked to Alzheimer's disease, say experts



By Daily Mail Reporter

Last updated at 7:24 PM on 24th August 2009



article-1208720-0623C2B5000005DC-420_233x389.jpg Suncream stops millions of people each year from burning their skin, but scientists are now looking for a link between suncream and Alzheimer's disease


The frightening possibility of Alzheimer's disease being induced by suncream is being investigated by academics.

Millions of British holidaymakers use block to protect their skin from the sun every year.


Now the University of Ulster says two of its experts have been awarded £350,000 by the European Union to explore the possible links between the suncream and the brain disease.


They are leading a groundbreaking three-year research project into whether human engineered nanoparticles, such as those found in sunscreen, can induce neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's.

It follows a 2003 study by British doctors that found some leading brands of sunscreen lotions failed to stop the sun's damaging rays penetrating the skin.


They recommended staying out of the sun or covering up when outside as the best way to protect against skin cancer.

Professor Vyvyan Howard, a pathologist and toxicologist, and Dr Christian Holster, an expert in Alzheimer's, are conducting the latest research as part of a worldwide project called NeuroNano.


The University of Ulster experts will be specifically looking at nanoparticles present in chemicals found in sunscreens and an additive in some diesel fuels - titanium dioxide and cerium oxide - and their connection to Alzheimer's and Parkinson's diseases.







Professor Howard said: 'There is now firm evidence that some engineered nanoparticles entering intravenously or via lungs can reach the brains of small animals.


'Indeed they lodge in almost all parts of the brain and there are no efficient clearance mechanisms to remove them once there.'


Enlarge article-1208720-062ACC01000005DC-784_233x274.jpg The University of Ulster's Professor Vyvyan Howard (left) and Dr Christian Holscher, who are leading the groundbreaking research


There were also suggestions that nanoscale particles arising from urban pollution had reached the brains of animals and children living in Mexico City, he said.


'It has recently been discovered that nanoparticles can have highly significant impacts on the rate of misfolding of key proteins associated with neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease.


'The brain itself is a very special organ. It cannot repair by replacing nerve cells, the ones you get at birth have to last all your life, which makes them peculiarly vulnerable to long term low dose toxicity.'


The brain had built up some protective mechanisms but a major worry was that nanoparticles seemed to be able to circumvent them, he said.


'All this adds up to a new field of investigation. This research programme is deeply challenging and entails the gathering of entirely new knowledge in a field - neuronanotoxicology.


'It requires the marshalling of unique expertise, methodologies, techniques and materials, many themselves completely new and never before brought together in the required combination,'" said the professor.


Latest figures show neurodegenerative diseases currently affect over 1.6 per cent of the European population, with dramatically rising incidence likely in part to the increase of the average age of the population.


'There is also some epidemiological evidence that Parkinson's disease is connected to environmental pollutants and it is often noted that, historically, reports of Parkinson's symptoms only began to appear after widespread industrialisation.


'The risk that engineered nanoparticles could introduce unforeseen hazards to human health is now also a matter of growing concern in many regulatory bodies, governments and industry,' said the professor.

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I didn't know this. I use sunscreen everyday.


Btw, I also found this at wiki with regard to the nanoparticles present in the sunscreen (as TiO2 and ZnO):


"There is evidence from isolated cell experiments that zinc oxide and titanium dioxide can induce free radical formation in the presence of light and that this may damage these cells (photo-mutagenicity with zinc oxide). However, this would only be of concern in people using sunscreens if the zinc oxide and titanium dioxide penetrated into viable skin cells. The weight of current evidence is that they remain on the surface of the skin and in the outer dead layer (stratum corneum) of the skin."


I know TiO2 is considered a possible carcinogenic if inhaled. But I'm not really sure how much of it can be readily absorbed through the surface of the skin. I guess this is where the studies might be focusing I guess.

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