Phillip Minton M.D.

SPFabulous: Chocolate the Most Delicious Sunblock

In chocolate, skin cancer on July 9, 2011 at 9:23 am

Are you one of the many people who are concerned that the sunscreens they apply to their skin may actually be more dangerous than the sun exposure itself? Why not try chocolate instead? Eating it, though, not applying it to the skin.

It turns out that the flavonols in dark chocolate we eat act to protect us from the harmful effects of sun exposure. Excessive sunlight can cause acute inflammation (sunburn), dryness and scaling, plus longer term problems such as benign skin growths (solar keratoses) and skin cancer.

Scientific studies have shown that consuming healthy chocolate can protect our skin from ultraviolet solar radiation, moisten the skin to lessen scaling, and lower the risk of both benign and malignant skin cancer. The beneficial effects of flavonols to fight sun damage seem to be enjoyed widely throughout the animal world, as polyphenolic compounds in chocolate, tea and even coffee confer these benefits not only to humans, but to other tested animals as well.

References:

  1. Eating chocolate can significantly protect the skin from UV light. Williams S, Tamburic S, Lally C.J Cosmet Dermatol. 2009 Sep;8(3):169-73.
  2. Long-term ingestion of high flavanol cocoa provides photoprotection against UV-induced erythema and improves skin condition in women. Heinrich U, Neukam K, Tronnier H, Sies H, Stahl W. J Nutr. 2006 Jun;136(6):1565-9.
  3. Tea, coffee, and cocoa as ultraviolet radiation protectants for the beet armyworm nucleopolyhedrovirus. El-Salamouny S, Ranwala D, Shapiro M, Shepard BM, Farrar RR Jr. J Econ Entomol. 2009 Oct;102(5):1767-73.
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  1. This is definitely something everyone should know. As someone who sunburns in about 15 minutes, you just gave me a new reason to love chocolate. I love that you are exploring the scientific aspects of chocolate and sharing it with the world.

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