Monday, September 20, 2010

Can drinking gallons of water really banish your wrinkles?

It is important to put this myth to rest as drinking a lot of water can lead to hyponatremia and death.

For years it has been one of the most basic rules of beauty: if you want a clear, youthful complexion, you must drink at least eight glasses of water every day.

Facialists, make-up artists, alternative health practitioners, nutritionists — and yes, we beauty journalists — have all agreed that a good dose of H2O will ‘flush out’ our systems, banish spots, plump out wrinkles and moisturise our skin from the inside out. It really is the elixir of great-looking skin.

Various dermatologists have suggested in recent years that this theory simply doesn’t wash, insisting the only thing maintaining moisture levels in our skin is the outer layer of skin.

But most beauty devotees remain convinced; just look at all those female celebrities permanently clutching a bottle of the stuff.

Recent research seemed to suggest the water lovers are right — and that certain types of water are even better for you than others.

In a double-blind, placebo-controlled trial, female participants were told to drink one and a half litres of water a day for eight weeks without changing any other elements of their lifestyle.

Some drank ordinary tap water. Others drank Willow Water, a natural mineral water sourced in the Lake District. It contains salicin, a derivative of willow bark which, when metabolised, turns into salicylic acid, an ingredient that is found in a number of skin products and is known for its anti-inflammatory properties and acts in the same way as aspirin.

Each woman had her picture taken before and after the trial using the latest, state-of-the-art Visia complexion analysis system, which examines the extent and depth of wrinkles, the texture of skin and the amount of sun damage, to allow detailed comparison.

At the end of the trial, the results were astonishing. Those who drank ordinary tap water saw a 19 per cent reduction in their wrinkles. Those who drank Willow Water (and no, until this point I hadn’t heard of it, either) saw a dramatic 24 per cent reduction.

It all sounds very persuasive, but is it really true? As a beauty journalist, I’ve tried everything from lasers to ludicrously expensive face creams and Botox in order to banish my wrinkles. But could simply upping my water intake have saved me a fortune? There’s only one way to find out: put it to the test.

I have my face analysed by Visia, just like the guinea pigs in the new research, and embark on the Willow Water diet — 126 bottles of water, three a day for six weeks — and wonder if it will work its magic on me.

One of my main concerns about drinking so much is that I simply won’t have the time and will be spending all day in the ladies’. But, surprisingly, knocking back one and half litres a day isn’t that difficult. I manage to fit in three green bottles between meals and I even take them on holiday with me — 48 of them wedged into the car as we drive 2,000 miles around France.

Oddly, I find that I’m visiting the loo less frequently, but much more pleasingly I find that I feel calmer and sleep more deeply, too.

I don’t change my normal skincare regime: high strength vitamin C serum (SkinCeuticals’ Phloretin for the first month and Cellex- C’s High Potency Serum for the second) followed by SPF-50 broad-spectrum sunscreen.

My diet is much the same as always, apart from during the holiday when, of course, I eat far more bread, pastries and ice cream, and drink much more wine than usual. On the positive side, I also eat even more salad and fruit — bursting with water — than usual.

According to Dr Howard Murad, a U.S. dermatologist and ‘inclusive health’ expert, this is a particularly good way for us to up our water intake and is vital for controlling the ageing process.

Murad has long been of the opinion that rather than glugging water from a glass, you should increase your fluid intake through your food as much as you can since the body assimilates it far better.

‘The water we consume when we eat fresh fruit and vegetables isn’t just any water,’ he says. ‘It’s water that is encapsulated within the structure of food to provide us with a slow and steady infusion as we digest. ‘It’s also water that is locked into foods that are rich in antioxidants and other key nutrients, which protect and promote cellular integrity. ‘This is exactly the kind of water that we should be consuming.’

Given all the fruit and salad I’ve consumed in France, this news put me in a confident mood when I return to the Visia clinic. Peering at my reflection in the mirror that morning, however, the truth is I can’t see any visible difference at all. Indeed, the initial reading of the second image shows — to my horror — that my wrinkles are fractionally more extensive than before!

This would not surprise dermatologist Dr Nick Lowe, of the Cranley Clinic, West London. ‘Drinking water bears little relation to moisture levels in the skin,’ he says. ‘The thing that maintains the skin’s moisture levels is the skin barrier, which is the outermost layer. ‘If that is intact, it will trap moisture to stop it being lost from the skin. The way to moisturise is not from the inside, but from the outside. ‘You would have to be dehydrated almost to the point of death before it would show in the skin. ‘If you have a normal skin barrier, it will maintain as much moisture in the skin as it can, regardless of what is going on in the body.

The theory that drinking lots of water helps to improve acne has never been proven.’

When the before and after images of my face are carefully examined by leading cosmetic aesthetician Dr Rita Rakus (who has nothing to do with Willow Water or the trial), she reckons that there is slight lessening of the (many) wrinkles on my eyelids, but I’m certainly not convinced.

Peering closely at the images on the maximum magnification, I can just about see what she means, but the difference is so small it could just be that I’d had a good night’s sleep. I’d drunk 126 bottles of water in a bid to boost my skin and it hadn’t made a drop of difference.


Report links bone drugs, thigh breaks

But, miracle of miracles, admits that the link may not be causal. The disorder is also very rare so the risk is minute. The database for the study also seems to have been haphazard

Drugs to prevent bone loss, including Fosamax, Boniva, and Reclast, may be linked to an increased risk of fractures to the thigh bone, researchers said.

As many as 94 percent of 310 patients who had an uncommon type of fracture to the thigh bone were also taking one of the bone-loss drugs called bisphosphonates, according a report released yesterday by the Journal of Bone and Mineral Research. Most had taken the medicine for more than five years.

The drugs are used to treat osteoporosis, which leaves bones weak and more likely to break. US regulators should add an update on the potential link to the drugs’ prescribing information and study their long-term safety, the researchers said.

Patients should not stop taking the drugs based on this finding, because they prevent hip and spine fractures, which are more common than the thigh break, said the report’s lead author, Elizabeth Shane.

"There is no evidence that this is a causal link, but there is an association, so we need to have that information available saying there may be an increased risk," said Shane, a professor of medicine at Columbia University, in a telephone interview. "For patients with osteoporosis who are at high risk of having a fracture, the benefits outweigh the risks."

The US Food and Drug Administration said the agency is reviewing the report and will consider changes to the drugs’ prescribing information.

Americans spent $2.16 billion on bone-strengthening drugs in the first half of 2010, according to IMS Health Inc., a Norwalk, Conn., research firm.

Fosamax, which is available generically, generated $1.1 billion in sales in 2009 for Merck, based in Whitehouse Station, N.J., while Boniva brought $977 million in sales for Roche, based in Basel, Switzerland. Reclast produced $472 million for Novartis, also based in Basel. Warner Chilcott Plc’s similarly acting drug Actonel had $222 million in sales for the County Louth, Ireland company.

The report was conducted by a panel of scientists convened in 2009 by the American Society of Bone and Mineral Research, a Washington professional group representing more than 4,000 doctors and scientists.

Researchers looked at 310 cases of atypical femur fractures, which account for less than 1 percent of hip and thigh fractures, said the report. Most of the fractures occurred in patients who had been taking the drugs for more than five years. The review included published and unpublished data and interviews with pharmaceutical companies and US regulators.

"In clinical studies involving more than 28,000 patients, Fosamax has not been associated with increased fracture risk at any skeletal site," said Merck spokesman Ronald Rogers in an e-mail.


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