Cheap, Beautiful Skin (4/28/14)
What does a $46 billion hostile stock offer for a drug/cosmetics company have in common with physical exercise? Could it be that the office lobby of the company making the offer is a basketball court?
No. It’s that both options promise healthy, beautiful looking skin. Though at very different prices.
Valeant Pharmaceutical has merged and merged until it is now big enough – combined with a big league hedge fund – to go after Allergan, the maker of botox. Botulinum toxin used to be greatly feared. Any parent opening a tin can might wonder if the ingredients harbored sufficient botulinum bacteria to kill their kids.
Now that same lethal stuff appears the fastest, quickest way to unwrinkled, gorgeous skin.
But those results cost. At this stage, $46 billion and counting for just one drug – whose side effects include frozen faces.
However, what is the true price of beauty? Isn’t it inherently priceless?
Yet there appears to be another way to healthy, good looking, younger skin. It’s a way that also taps into how the body naturally regenerates itself.
McMaster University in Ontario, source of some of the world’s most useful clinical population studies, has done another interesting one. It required studying and then biopsying people’s rear ends.
Parts that get less sun exposure.
The issue researched, as described by Gretchen Reynolds in the April 22nd issue of the New York Times, was the aging of skin.
As we grow older, skin grows thicker – especially the outer layer. The inner layer gets thinner. The result – more flaking and discolorations – skin that looks old.
And as we know, “old” skin is bad.
The McMaster researchers decided to biopsy the lower “cheeks” of people to see if exercise made a difference in their appearance.
It certainly did. Older people who exercised more had much younger looking skin on their butts – at least in Canada.
But as anybody who reads such studies is told, association is not causality. Were the exercisers just genetically lucky? Eaters of “healthier” foods? More likely to use yoga to settle stress than four beers and a pack of cigarettes?
So the researchers picked out aged 65 and older (“elderly” folks – you know who you are) who tend to possess the kind of buttocks that Sex and the City aficionados find the the death knell of romance. Carefully selected for their inactivity, this cohort was cajoled into moderate exercise for 30 minutes a day.
And then had their butts biopsied again. The result – much younger looking skin.
Thereby producing a potential answer to an American conundrum that seems to engage the public more closely than the fate of Ukraine or global climate change: how can I get nice looking skin? On the cheap.
Here are some potential answers:
A. Make sure your parents did not leave you uncovered at the beach when you were a kid. Secondary and tertiary burns in childhood don’t just affect skin clarity and beauty, but rates of cancer much later in life.
Okay, can’t do much about that. But you can:
1. Walk. In sunlight. With friends. Covering much of your skin.
Or alternatively, use an stepper/treadmill/elliptical/weight room/rower/exercycle or just plain squat a lot outdoors or indoors.
Walking back and forth to work or lunch or the grocery store may work to provoke younger skin. If you use perhaps a tenth of that time to move very fast (for you) – you might turn on a whole host of genes that will could make the regenerative job quicker and more effective. Research on that is just preliminary, though.
2. Wear a hat. UV light causes fashionable tans. It also makes for darkened, quickly aging skin plus all kinds of different skin cancers.
You do want light on your eyes, for reasons of mood/body clocks/alertness/productivity. Some would argue you want some sun on your skin to make vitamin D.
But hats protect the places that already produce the most skin cancers.
And hats can be beautiful. Refined. Elegant. Expressive. Romantic.
Hats have been great fashion for most of human history. Why a celebrity obsessed culture has not re-acquired a taste for hats is a bit of a mystery.
Perhaps hats require changes in hairstyles. Which may be a very small price to pay for lovely, unwrinkled skin and much smaller dermatologist’s bills.
3. Use sun screen.
The Australians did a clinical trial. One beach town got free sun screen – for more than a decade. The town next door did not.
Melanoma rates were half in the free sun screen town.
Melanoma, like other skin cancers, disfigures. It also kills, sometimes quickly. And it afflicts lots of young people.
Sun worshipping has many costs. Melanoma rates in the UK are up several fold in the last few decades – supposedly the result of more and more Britons temporarily escaping the rainy, sceptred isles and burning themselves on Spanish, Italian and Greek beaches.
Much of that’s preventable.
Lovely, Cheap Skin
As the offer for Allergan shows, drugs that promise younger, better looking skin should remain lucrative a long time. People will continue to want “the pill” – the magic formula – that will disappear years from their faces and bring back the illusion of youth.
The human body knows better.
You don’t get something for nothing. Things work through effort and activity. Particularly the kinds, like walking, we are designed to do.
The human body constantly remakes itself. Most of the heart is remade in three days. Much of your skin is wholly “new” in weeks.
But what you do to your body changes your skin. Just like it changes everything else that you are – and become.
For your body is a regenerative information system. UV light is very different information from the light that pops off that LED on your nightstand. And the body responds differently.
What would be the advantage to the country of more folks around wearing a hat, long sleeves and sunscreen on nose and ears?
A lot more than younger skin. Here are just a few other advantages:
1. A longer lived population. 2. A happier, less depressed population 3. More productive people 4. Less pollution 5. Thinner waistlines 6. Less diabetes. 7. Eventually, less money spent on health care.
We can do it. We can have cheap, beautiful skin for the country without massive public outlays for botox and other toxins.
Cheap, beautiful skin. Maybe that’s the kind of political platform both parties can support.
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