DNA repair plays a critical role in skin aging. Everyday, the DNA in our cells sustain damage. Every cell repairs DNA up to 1 million times a day!
DNA damage is most commonly caused by UV radiation (both UVA and UVB). It may also caused by x-rays, gamma rays, chemotherapy, viruses, excessive heat, and chemicals.
DNA damage is a big deal because defective DNA causes defective cells.
Most DNA damage is repaired by the body. But if the DNA in a cell has been damaged beyond repair, a gene (called the p53 gene) is triggered to destroy the cell. The cell commits cell suicide (a process called apoptosis). Cell suicide is how the cell protects itself against cancer. Damaged DNA (i.e. mutated) must be destroyed or else the cell becomes cancerous.
The p53 gene is vital for regulating damaged DNA. But this gene can become damaged itself by repeated sunburns. Once this happens, a cell continues to grow because there is nothing to stop it from growing. This uncontrolled growth leads to skin cancer.
Like everything in our body, the body’s DNA repair system slows down with age. A reduction in DNA repair leads to an accumulation of mutations or cells that die. Cells that die lead to eventual tissue damage or organ malfunction.