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Is There a Wrinkle Cure?

What do you think of dermatologist Nicholas V. Perricone's book The Wrinkle Cure, also discussed on his PBS television special? Do you agree with his theories on aging, and his diet and supplement advice to avoid wrinkles?

Answer (Published 1/8/2002)

I didn’t see the television program you’re referring to, but I have gotten a number of questions about Dr. Perricone’s book and his theories. Dr. Perricone, an assistant clinical professor of dermatology at Yale University Medical School, maintains that wrinkles, sagging, and discoloration are not due to aging but to accumulated inflammation and other damage to the skin from years of exposure to culprits such as the sun, chemicals, stress, and cosmetics. The fact that sun exposure damages skin, causing wrinkles and discoloration, is not exactly news. Smoking also damages skin and causes wrinkles. However, I don’t think you can simply blame the sun or any other type of exposure for sagging skin – here, gravity is also at work.

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Dr. Perricone’s "cure" for wrinkles and other skin problems involves a variety of "cosmeceuticals" – dietary supplements that you take orally or apply to your skin. He also advocates a diet that emphasizes eating salmon or other types of oily fish daily as well as fruits and vegetables that are low on the glycemic index. I can’t argue with his dietary advice. I also recommend eating salmon and oily fish frequently for the health-protective omega-3 fatty acids they provide, and I suggest emphasizing foods that are low on the glycemic index for diabetics and people trying to lose weight. At least one recent study does suggest that people who eat diets rich in healthy fats and antioxidants and low in sugar are less prone to wrinkles than those who do not. But more research is needed before we can say that eating salmon and low-glycemic-index carbohydrates can eliminate wrinkles altogether.

Among the cosmeceuticals marketed by Dr. Perricone to remedy wrinkles are vitamin C Ester, an antioxidant that he claims provides a readily available form of vitamin C to the skin. He also has a product called NTP Complex, which he says is a combination of nutrients that enhances access of vitamin C Ester and alpha-lipoic acid (another antioxidant) to the skin, supposedly giving it a youthful glow. Dr. Perricone claims that NTP temporarily minimizes the appearance of facial and neck lines and wrinkles.

Dr. Perricone sells his pricey line of products on his Web site. My bottom line: I’m skeptical about claims that this combination of dietary measures and antioxidant cosmeceuticals will erase or minimize wrinkles.

Andrew Weil, M.D.

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