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Sun, Smoke, Extra Weight Add Years to Skin
Date:12/22/2009

Twins study shows impact of lifestyle on top of genetics

TUESDAY, Dec. 22 (HealthDay News) -- Smoking, being overweight and not using sunscreen all take an additional toll on sun-damaged skin, a new study of twins shows.

The findings, from researchers at Case Western Reserve Medical School in Cleveland, suggest that "people with the same genetic composition are more likely to have the same sort of sun damage," said Dr. Jonette Keri, an assistant professor of dermatology at University of Miami Miller School of Medicine.

In other words, "if your mom aged poorly, you are going to age poorly," she said.

But while you can't run away from your genes, you can control certain environmental or lifestyle factors to keep your skin looking younger for longer.

The report is published in the December issue of the Archives of Dermatology.

According to the study authors, long-term sun exposure causes physical and structural changes to the skin that damages the skin. But while usual skin aging is characterized by the development of fine wrinkles and skin growths, sun-damaged skin includes more coarsely wrinkled skin, spots of extra pigment or lost pigment and dilated blood vessels on the face.

However, as much as 40 percent of aging-related changes are due to environmental or lifestyle factors, not a person's genetics, the researchers said.

The new study in twins -- who share so much of the same genetic material -- seems to make that clear, one expert said.

"I would think that twins would each have the same response to sun exposure as their sibling," said Dr. Jeffrey Salomon, an assistant clinical professor of plastic surgery at Yale University School of Medicine. He was not involved in the new research.

For the study, Kathryn J. Martires, from Case Western, and her colleagues collected data on 65 pairs of twins (both identical and fraternal) who attended th
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