Studies published in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology show that the fern Polypodium leucotomos reduces the cancer-causing and aging effects of UVA radiation on the skin, including DNA damage, inflammation, immune-system suppression, and collagen breakdown. Supplements containing the extract will become available in the United States for the first time this year.

According to David Leffell, MD, a professor of dermatology and medicine at Yale University School of Medicine in New Haven, Conn, the pills are intended to supplement, not replace, sunscreen, and can benefit everyone, dark-and fair-skinned alike.

Dermatologists say that even though the pill is useful, it doesn’t let users off the hook with sunscreen.

“If you’re going to the beach for a week, you should easily go through a whole bottle,” says Tina Alster, MD, a dermatologist in Washington, DC, and a professor at Georgetown University.

Alster says the only safe tan is the one you can get in a bottle.

[US News and World Report,  July 2, 2006]