The curious ways your skin shapes your health (BBC)

Just out from the BBC’s website.

But one of the most striking findings confirmed what people had long suspected: how youthful you look is an impressively accurate expression of your inner health. By 1982, those men who had been assessed as looking particularly old for their age at the beginning of the study, 20 years earlier, were more likely to be dead. This is backed up by more recent research, which found that, of patients who were judged to look at least 10 years older than they should, 99% had health problems.

It turns out skin health can be used to predict a number of seemingly unconnected factors, from your bone density to your risk of developing neurodegenerative diseases or dying from cardiovascular disease. However, as the evidence has begun to add up, the story has taken a surprise twist. Is the skin simply a living tally of the damage we have accumulated, or is it more complicated? Could it, in fact, be keeping healthy people healthy – and dragging unhealthy ones down further?

The curious ways your skin shapes your health

Weathered or unhealthy skin is emerging as a major risk factor for almost every single age-related disease, from Parkinson’s to type 2 diabetes…

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A fascinating approach to health. Also from the same lBBC link:

In one study, an international team of researchers – including Man – asked older volunteers to apply a topical moisturiser twice a day for one month. Compared to older participants who had not received any treatment, the subjects’ skin was significantly restored, with lower levels of three different classes of inflammatory chemicals.

"These promising results were quickly followed up with another study by the same team, which involved treating adults over 65 years old with a moisturising cream twice a day for three years. The participants’ cognitive functioning was measured at the beginning and end of the study – and after three years, though the control group had declined significantly, those who had been hydrating their skin had not deteriorated.

“Decreased stratum corneum hydration levels [those in the outer layer of the epidermis] are likely the major contributor to inflammaging,” says Man, who explains that because dry skin tends to have higher levels of inflammation, it can feel itchy. And if you yield to the scratching impulse – you guessed it – the inflammation gets worse."

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