I read on https://medicine.yale.edu/news-article/sun-damage-occurs-even-after-sunset/:

  • When UV light hits the skin , it causes a type of DNA damage known as a cyclobutanepyrimidinedimer (CPD) , in which two adjacent bases attach , causing a bend that makes it difficult for the cell to copy its DNA correctly. During UV exposure, many CPDs are instantly created in skin cells, but the DNA is able to repair itself by removing most of the CPDs and replacing them with normal DNA. In a study published in the journal Science, Douglas E. Brash, PhD, Clinical Professor of Therapeutic Radiology and Dermatology, and a member of Yale Cancer Center’s Radiology and Radiotherapy Research Program, and his colleagues found that melanocytes, the cells that form melanin, continued to generate CPDs for several hours after UV exposure ended. Interestingly, cells without melanin generated CPDs only during UV exposure.
  • It also creates an opportunity. The delayed pathway should be interceptable at several points, creating an opening for an “evening-after” sunscreen that might prevent the enzyme activation or divert the energy from the excited electron into heat before it can damage DNA.

This article is over 6 years old. Does any drug/cream help prevent DNA damage after one has been exposed to UVs?

1 Answer 1


According to a paper published by the principle investigator, Dr. Brash, who was interviewed in the article linked in the question:

We document the ability of [acetyl zingerone] in vitro to prevent dark‐CPD formation in melanocytes within the first few hours after UVA exposure

Thus, Dr. Brash appears to be investigating such compounds. In the manuscript, they also describe the existence of a naturally occurring anti-oxidant, α‐tocopherol, which is also "a common ingredient added to sunscreen products." They go on to compare the effectiveness of their new acetyl zingerone and α‐tocopherol.

However, I encourage you to consider these results, and Dr. Brash's motives, with a healthy dose of skepticism. The paper's acknowledgments section states:

The authors would like to thank Sytheon for funding this research.

A quick web search shows this company has a patent on acetyl zingerone. In a paper published the same year, the authors of the manuscript report "no conflicts of interest", yet they had just received research funding from a chemical manufacturer directly benefiting from the research, which in my mind at least, gives the appearance of a conflict of interest.

Overall, yes, there appears to at least one compound, α‐tocopherol, which is commonly added to skin care products which has at least some theoretical activity to prevent DNA damage after-the-fact.

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