Development of an orally-administered systemic agent that could reduce the effects of u.v. exposure on skin could potentially have a major effect on the incidence of skin cancers and photo-ageing. A number of micronutrients have been suggested to have metabolic properties that could induce this protection, and our data indicate that n–3 polyunsaturated fatty acids are particularly effective in this role. The mechanisms of action of n–3 polyunsaturated fatty acids appear to depend on their anti-inflammatory properties, acting to reduce the u.v.-induced release of cytokines and other mediators from a variety of skin cell types.
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