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Press Release

Apr 7, 2014

Green tea and pomegranate aid in preventing skin damage

Green tea and pomegranate may help to protect against skin damage, according to a new study* which is to be released at the British Society for Investigative Dermatology’s Annual Meeting in Newcastle this week.

Environmental factors, such as excessive sun exposure and subsequent UV radiation, can lead to significant increases in the level of oxidative stress in the body. Oxidative stress occurs when molecules known as ‘reactive oxygen species’ are created in the body and damage the structure of the surrounding cells. This process can cause damage to the DNA of cells known as skin fibroblasts, found in the second layer of skin where these cells maintain and repair the skin in case of injury. This damage prevents the skin fibroblasts from protecting the skin and can result in serious skin damage, which is a major contributor to skin ageing and skin cancer.

Polyphenols, a class of organic chemical compounds naturally found in food sources such as green tea and pomegranates, are known to break down reactive oxygen species, rendering them harmless, and can therefore decrease the overall levels of oxidative stress in the body. This study demonstrated that pomegranate significantly reduces the damage inflicted by reactive oxygen species on DNA in skin fibroblasts by 47%, proving almost as efficient as the 56% reduction provided by MitoQ, an artificially engineered antioxidant used to prevent oxidative damage to cells and reduce the risk of a variety of diseases – including cancer and Parkinson’s disease.

Dr Christine Bösch from the University of Leeds, Lecturer in Nutrition, says: “Mitochondrial DNA is a form of DNA which is central to healthy cell operations and is found throughout the body, including skin fibroblasts. Mitochondrial DNA is particularly susceptible to oxidative damage, partially due to its less effective repair mechanisms as regular DNA, said damage can be a contributing factor in the development of serious diseases such as skin cancer. The effects of pomegranate on oxidative damage in mitochondrial DNA have been an intriguing revelation which may lead to further discoveries of effective, natural antioxidants.”

Prof Mark Birch-Machin, the senior co-author from Newcastle University, Dermatological Sciences says; “For almost 20 years, my group at Newcastle University has been at the forefront of pioneering mitochondrial DNA as a highly sensitive biomarker of sun-induced damage in skin which can lead to ageing and skin cancer”. He goes on to say that: “This work also represents a unique collaboration with the other senior co-author, Dr Georg Lietz, a senior lecturer in Nutrition at Newcastle University and co-director with myself of a University spin out company called PB Bioscience Ltd”.

Johnathon Major, of the British Association of Dermatologists commented: “Skin cancer is the most common cancer in the UK, causing an average of seven deaths a day. Such research is vital in revealing resources to use in a multi-pronged approach in prevention of the disease. However, these additional resources should not replace the essential practices of sun protection, such as using a sunscreen with at least SPF 30, wearing protective clothing and seeking shade.”

The study was conducted by researchers at the University of Leeds and Newcastle University.


1. If using this study, please ensure you mention that the study was released at British Society of Investigative Dermatology Annual Meeting. The meeting is being held in Newcastle, April 7th to 9th 2014.

“Effects of polyphenols on mitochondrial DNA damage in skin fibroblasts.”; C. Bosch, G. Lietz and M. Birch
Machin. 1University of Leeds, Leeds, U.K. and 2Newcastle University, Newcastle upon Tyne, U.K.

2. The British Association of Dermatologists is the central association of practising UK dermatologists. Our aim is to continually improve the treatment and understanding of skin disease. For further information about the charity, visit .

3. Skin cancer: More than 100,000 new cases of skin cancer are diagnosed annually in the UK, and while the disease can also occur on parts of the body not exposed to sunlight, extensive sun exposure is thought to be responsible for the vast majority of cases. In more than four out of five cases skin cancer is a preventable disease.

Every day 35 people in Britain are diagnosed with the disease, two of which being young people aged between 15 and 34. Whilst organisations such as ours are leading the fight in prevention and treatment, skin cancer is still proving to be fatal; seven people in the UK die every day from the disease.

UV irradiation in the form of UVA is associated with skin ageing. UVA affects the elastin in the skin and leads to wrinkles and sun-induced skin ageing (for example coarse wrinkles, leathery skin and brown pigmentation), as well as skin cancer. UVA can penetrate window glass and penetrates the skin more deeply than UVB. UVA protection in a sunscreen will help defend the skin against photo ageing and potentially skin cancer. UVB is the form of UV irradiation most responsible for sunburn and has strong links to malignant melanoma and basal cell carcinoma risk (types of skin cancer).