Drinking at the Beach? Your Skin Might Pay the Price

During the summer months, Americans love to spend countless hours at the beach. Aside from swimming and getting a tan, many people also enjoy recreational drinking during their beach going hours. Unfortunately for beer lovers, such drinking habits might prove harmful to your skin.

Skin in the Game

This bad news comes courtesy of a team of German researchers, who found that consuming alcohol made skin more vulnerable to the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays. The study authors examined six healthy German men, all of whom had their skin examined after consuming three alcoholic beverages. This analysis revealed that the men’s skin was less able to resist damage following alcohol consumption. As a result, the subjects began to suffer sun burns after shorter periods of time.

So what explains the report’s findings? Part of the reason is that beach-goers might be more focused on having fun than taking certain health precautions, such as applying sunscreen. But the authors believe there’s more to the story. Specifically, they contend that part of the answer lies with the levels of carotenoids in the subject’s bodies. Carotenoids are the pigments responsible for giving fruits and veggies their red, yellow or orange coloring.

Inside the human body, these pigments help the skin resist damage from ultraviolet rays. The authors noted that the subject’s carotenoid levels fell noticeably after they drank alcoholic beverages Because of this, the research team believes that the men might have been more susceptible to sun damage.

A Long-term Impact?

Aaron White, a senior scientific adviser with the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, noted that “the research suggests that alcohol reduces the amount of time you can spend in the sun before you get a burn.” More alarmingly, White further added that “The added risk of sunburn with alcohol is probably one of the contributing factors to the [higher] rates of skin cancer [among] people who drink [alcohol].”

This isn’t the first report to connect alcohol consumption to an increased risk of sunburn. Previous studies from Japan and France have drawn similar conclusions.

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