Posts Tagged ‘ aging ’

Aging, Not Cancer, Motivates Teens to Wear Sunscreen

Friday, February 14th, 2014

Teenagers are more likely to agree to wear sunscreen on a regular basis after hearing about the premature aging sun exposure can cause, a new study has found.  Similar information about how the sun’s rays increase the risk of potentially life-threatening skin cancer, however, did not prove as motivational to the teens studied.  More from Reuters:

“Vanity is more of a driving force to use sunscreen, as opposed to the fear factor of developing skin cancer,” the study’s lead author, William Tuong, told Reuters Health. Tuong is a fourth-year medical student at the University of California, Davis.

In his study, high school students applied sunblock three times as often if they watched a video showing how it could prevent their skin from wrinkling than if they watched a video showing how sun exposure causes melanoma.

Fifty Sacramento 11th-grade students participated in the study and saw one of two educational videos urging them to lather on sunscreen.

Tuong developed the five-minute videos to test the theory that teenagers were more likely to respond to messages about appearance than to messages about health.

A young, attractive woman speaks directly to youth in both videos.

In one, the actress emphasizes the growing incidence of melanoma in young people and the link between the deadliest form of skin cancer and ultraviolet light. In the other video, the same actress discusses how ultraviolet light contributes to premature aging and “can make you look older and less attractive.”

“We are not trying to look like our grandparents, right?” the actress says. “Have you seen what the sun can do to a grape? It gets shriveled and wrinkled. Raisins are not cute,” she says.

“I don’t want to look like a raisin face, and I don’t think you want to either,” she continues. “The sun causes wrinkles, dark spots, uneven skin tones, sagging skin and rough, leathery skin. These are all the things that will make you look older and definitely less sexy.”

Image: Teen wearing sunscreen, via Shutterstock

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Rare Childhood Aging Disorder Has New Treatment Hope

Thursday, June 30th, 2011

A drug traditionally used to prevent the rejection of organ transplants is giving new hope to parents of children with progeria, a rare genetic disorder that causes premature aging and death usually before age 12.  Scientists at Children’s Hospital and the National Institutes of Health are currently planning a large-scale clinical trial to see whether the drug rapamycin, or a similar medication, might help remove the damaging protein progerin from patients’ cells.

According to a report in The Boston Globe:

It starts with a tiny genetic change, the equivalent of a single spelling error in the vast DNA manuscript that supplies the narrative of human biology. But for babies born with that errant genetic code, childhood becomes a race against traits more commonly associated with their grandparents. The children age rapidly, resembling octogenarians before they even become teenagers.

They lose their hair, develop osteoporosis, and ultimately suffer strokes and heart attacks during adolescence….

Because of a single mistake in the six billion letters in the genome, children with progeria accumulate too much of a protein called progerin in their cells. They develop bone and skin problems before their first birthday. They are smaller than their peers and have so much trouble keeping fat on their body that veins on their foreheads become visible. They suffer from the same cardiovascular problems that kill many adults and live, on average, to be only 12.

If successful, the clinical trial could offer hope to those afflicted with the rare disease, which affects an estimated 1 in 4-8 million newborns.  It might also shed light on ways to repurpose existing drugs to fight other aging and neurological diseases like Parkinson’s.

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