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Oxidative Medicine and Cellular Longevity
Volume 2014, Article ID 860479, 6 pages
Review Article

The Role of Antioxidants in Skin Cancer Prevention and Treatment

1Department of Dermatology, Cambridge University Hospitals, Addenbrooke’s Hospital, Hills Road, Cambridge CB2 0QQ, UK
2Faculty of Health Studies, Zdravstvena pot 5, 1000 Ljubljana, Slovenia
3Dermatology Centre Parmova, Parmova Street 53, 1000 Ljubljana, Slovenia

Received 16 December 2013; Accepted 24 February 2014; Published 26 March 2014

Academic Editor: Eugene A. Kiyatkin

Copyright © 2014 Aleksandar Godic et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Skin cells are constantly exposed to reactive oxygen species (ROS) and oxidative stress from exogenous and endogenous sources. UV radiation is the most important environmental factor in the development of skin cancer and skin aging. The primary products caused by UV exposure are generally direct DNA oxidation or generation of free radicals which form and decompose extremely quickly but can produce effects that can last for hours, days, or even years. UV-induced generation of ROS in the skin develops oxidative stress when their formation exceeds the antioxidant defense ability. The reduction of oxidative stress can be achieved on two levels: by lowering exposure to UVR and/or by increasing levels of antioxidant defense in order to scavenge ROS. The only endogenous protection of our skin is melanin and enzymatic antioxidants. Melanin, the pigment deposited by melanocytes, is the first line of defense against DNA damage at the surface of the skin, but it cannot totally prevent skin damage. A second category of defense is repair processes, which remove the damaged biomolecules before they can accumulate and before their presence results in altered cell metabolism. Additional UV protection includes avoidance of sun exposure, usage of sunscreens, protective clothes, and antioxidant supplements.