May 29, 2012

NASA Drink Reduces Skin Aging, UV Damage

Lee Rannals for RedOrbit.com

NASA has been in the field of space sciences for 53-years, but the space agency may be diving into the world of cosmetics unexpectedly.

The U.S. space agency developed a fruit drink, known as AS10, to protect astronauts from radiation, but a new study shows astronauts are not the only humans who can benefit from the concoction.

Researchers set out to test the affect AS10 may have on its 180 participants who do not frequently make trips outside the Earth's atmosphere.

They found that after four months of drinking two shots of the fruit drink a day, the UV spots on the participants´ faces were reduced by 30 percent, and wrinkles by 17 percent.

The drink was developed as a nutritional supplement for astronauts to protect them from the damaging effects of high levels of radiation outside the Earth's atmosphere.

AS10 contains a blend of fruits, including cupuacu, acai, acerola, prickly pear and yumberry.  All of the fruits provide vitamins and phytochemicals, which are known to block the harmful effects of radiation.  The drink also contains grape, green tea, pomegranate and vegetables.

Radiation particles can alter oxygen modules in the body to create reactive oxygen species (ROS), which damage cells in a process known as oxidative stress.

The ROS process has been linked to diseases like cancer and Alzheimer's, and also is thought to play a role in the skin aging process.

ROS are created naturally in the body as cells generate energy, but also through environmental factors like chemicals and ultraviolet light from the sun.

"Think of them as little Pac-men taking bites out of molecules that are essential for cells to function," Dr. Aaron Barson, the nutritional scientist from Utah who carried out the AS10 study after patients reported dramatic improvement from the drink, said in a press release.

"The skin is the first body tissue to be exposed to UV rays and we know it is sensitive to oxidative stress. Our study shows it greatly benefits from a reduction in this stress. The effects of oxidative stress on the skin can be quickly modified and the skin can heal itself by drinking AS10."

Barson said the results of the trial may have been even better if the study was conducted during the winter months, when UV exposure would have been less.

A larger study is planned for the summer to investigate how long the effects last and whether skin conditions reach a plateau.

The cost of the drink was just under $470 for the four month period of the study.  A 25-ounce bottle of AS10 cost about $50, and participants drank a little over 2 ounces of it a day.

Cosmetic dermatologist Dr. Sam Bunting said that although AS10 may do what it claims, a critical appraisal of the methods is still needed to back it up.

"If these changes were due to AS10, this would be of great interest as UV is responsible for 80 per cent of the skin changes we associate with aging," she told Daily Mail.

Cosmetic dermatologist Dr Mervyn Patterson, of Woodford Medical, said that although the drink could be causing the reduction in the UV exposure pigmentation, daily use of sunscreen with UVB/UVA sun protection could deliver results similar to AS10.

"It is more likely to protect the skin, resulting in reductions in redness and pigmentation and a subtle reduction in wrinkles," Patterson told Daily Mail.