Facial Ageing in Australian Women - Why we do it faster

Last week our team was dealing with a whole lot of reporters keen to talk to Assoc Prof Greg Goodman about his latest scientific publication, including Channel 7 & 9 News, ABC National Radio, Harpers Bazaar magazine and The Age newspaper. This of course sparked our interest, so we thought we’d find out from the man himself what all the fuss was about.

"For those of us who aren’t experts in Dermatology can you explain what the article was researching?"

"Together with four other expert authors (including Dermatology Institute of Victoria, Dermatologist Dr Katherine Armour) we set out to measure how Caucasian woman living in Australia age in comparison to those living in the northern hemisphere," explains Assoc Prof Greg Goodman. "What we discovered was that Australian woman reported significantly more severe signs of ageing, at a younger age, than woman from other countries, particularly those from the USA. "

"Can you explain to us what the signs of ageing are? "

"In basic terms there are two types of ageing, intrinsic (sometimes known as ‘natural’) this type of skin ageing happens to everyone, how early it onsets depends on your genetics. Then there is photo ageing which is how the environment, in particular the sun, impacts your ageing process. Previous studies have already told us that relatively young Australian woman (27-47 year olds) show advanced signs of photo ageing such as sun spots, broken blood vessels, pigmentation and wrinkles*, which given our climate and lifestyle makes sense. "

"However what our research also suggested was that volume related changes, such as the development of nasal labial folds, sagging of the cheeks and hollowing under the eyes, which are generally assumed to be caused by intrinsic ageing, may also be influenced by the environment."

"You publish a lot of scientific papers why do you think this one has sparked so much interest? "

"What we found particularly interesting…and clearly so did everyone else, was the fact that Australian women are reporting some signs of advanced ageing up to 20 years earlier than those from the USA. When you first think about the Australian climate compared to the American you may think that it’s not that drastically different, parts of America do get very hot but our lifestyles are actually very different. The majority of the Australian population lives near the coast (around 85%) while most Americans live centrally (over 60%). This means that in general where Australian's  are living our climate stays consistently temperate so we live very outdoor lifestyles all year round."

"Our holidays also consist of going to the beach", continues Assoc Prof Greg Goodman,  "and our school days are punctuated by an hour long lunchtime in the baking sun…and this seems to be a very important point. The outcomes shown in this research may be the result of cumulative UV exposure over a long period of time."

"So what should we be doing?"

"As this long term sun damage probably begins in childhood, I think we need to consider some changes to the way our children’s days are structured. We all love summer holidays but having our kids playing outside in the middle of the day for 6 weeks straight when UV is highest is probably not ideal. I also think it could be beneficial to restructure school days so that the majority of outdoor activity and play is done earlier in the morning before 11, with afternoon breaks perhaps being shorter and conducted only in shaded environments during summer. I'm all for our kids getting out and among it, it just needs to happen at more appropriate times of the day."

"And although I will never tell someone off for applying sunscreen, we do need to remember that it isn’t a case of splashing it on and then being able to spend all day in the sun, reapplying, seeking shade and sun protection clothing is also really important." 

Links to other media organisations stories on this study: 

ABC Radio:  http://www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/breakfast/faces-of-australian-women-ageing-more-quickly:-study/8433208

Harpers Bazaar: http://www.harpersbazaar.com.au/news/beauty-insider/2017/4/australian-women-ageing-20-years-faster/

Channel 7 news story: https://twitter.com/9newsmelb/status/851719895519600640?refsrc=email&s=11

To read the scientific publication click here: Comparison of self-reported signs of facial ageing among Caucasian women in Australia versus those in the USA, the UK and Canada.

Reference to additional study

*Green AC, Wallingford SC, McBride P. Childhood exposure to ultraviolet radiation and harmful skin effects: epidemiological evidence. Prog. Biophys. Mol. Biol. 2011; 107: 349–55.

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