THE QUESTION: Smoking and sun exposure are known to age the skin. Might diet have an effect as well?

THE QUESTION: Smoking and sun exposure are known to age the skin. Might diet have an effect as well?

THIS STUDY: It involved 4,025 middle-aged and older women. Dermatological exams found wrinkling among 22 percent of the women, dry skin caused by aging in 29 percent and thinning skin among 13 percent. Women who reported eating the most foods high in vitamin C and linoleic acid (found in such foods as soybean oil, leafy green vegetables and nuts) had the healthiest-looking skin, with the least amount of wrinkling, dryness and thinning. Those who consumed the most carbohydrates and fats had more wrinkled and thinner skin.

WHO MAY BE AFFECTED? Women. It's natural for skin to age over time, becoming less firm and elastic, developing fine wrinkles and taking longer to heal. External factors, such as exposure to the sun, can speed this process.

CAVEATS: Nutrient intake was determined from foods and beverages the women reported consuming. Information was collected once and may not have been typical of long-term consumption. The study was funded by Unilever, which makes a variety of skin care products.

FIND THIS STUDY: It's in the October issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

LEARN MORE ABOUT skin aging at www.skincarephysicians.com and www.niapublications.org/agepages (click "skin.asp").

The research described in Quick Study comes from credible, peer-reviewed journals. Nonetheless, conclusive evidence about a treatment's effectiveness is rarely found in a single study. Anyone considering changing or beginning treatment of any kind should consult with a physician.