Skip to main content

14-01-2010 | Dermatology | Article

Environmental factors associated with skin aging identified in twin study


Free abstract

MedWire News: Results from a US twin study suggest that history of skin cancer, smoking, being heavier, and not using sunscreen all contribute to skin photoaging.

Interestingly, alcohol consumption appeared to be significantly associated with lower photodamage scores.

“Photoaging – the most recognized form of extrinsic aging of the skin – describes changes brought about by long term sun exposure, resulting in photodamage,” explain researchers.

Up to 40% of factors that contribute to photoaging are likely to be environmental in origin. Factors such as smoking and sun exposure have been suggested to be contributory, and avoidance of UV and use of protective clothing and sunscreens have been shown to be protective, but results have been conflicting.

In this study, Elma Baron (University Hospitals, Case Medical Center, Cleveland, Ohio) and colleagues administered a questionnaire to 130 adults (65 twin pairs), aged 18 to 77 years, who attended the 2002 annual Twin Days Festival in Twinsburg, Ohio collecting data about skin type, skin cancer history, weight, smoking and alcohol consumption.

The researchers evaluated photoaging using a validated, photographic photodamage scale, assessing symptoms such as wrinkling and pigmentation changes.

As reported in the Archives of Dermatology, they report that factors that significantly predicted a higher degree of photodamage included history of skin cancer, zygosity status (monozygous vs dizygous), higher weight, and cigarette smoking.

Of note, alcohol consumption and sunscreen use significantly predicted a lower degree of photo damage.

“The study of twins provides a unique opportunity to control for genetic susceptibility in order to elucidate environmental influences on skin aging,” conclude the authors.

They caution: “As with all self-report methods, data may not be accurately reported by participants,” but add that “the relationships found between smoking, weight, sunscreen use, skin cancer, and photodamage in these twin pairs may help to motivate the reduction of risky behaviors.”

MedWire ( is an independent clinical news service provided by Current Medicine Group, a trading division of Springer Healthcare Limited. © Springer Healthcare Ltd; 2010

By Helen Albert