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Protecting your skin with a pill

Posted by Ellen Krafve - email

DALLAS, TX (CNN) - Popping a pill to protect your skin from the sun. It may sound too good to be true, but some dermatologists and patients say it works.

July in Texas is lot like June, August and September with full blown sunshine.  

Gail Franz has seen her share of sunshine. She grew up on Florida beaches and has lived in Texas for 30 years. She says she remembers her parents harping on her about the sun.

"I can remember my father and my mother saying to me, 'Be careful Gail. Be careful Gail. Remember the sun,'"  said Franz.

Now, she finds herself at the dermatologists office with sun damaged skin, but about two years ago Dr. Angela Bowers suggested she start using an herbal supplement for the skin called, Heliocare. The company claims each pill has 240 milligrams of a tropical fern rich in antioxidants. Gail, an avid golfer, says she now has fewer skin lesions.

"I have had a decrease in the number of actinic keratosis," said Franz. "I don't know if I'm being proactive, but I also feel any kind of help I can get to keep me from coming out for these little spots, the better for me."

Dr. Bowers says many patients believe in the powers of Heliocare.

"A lot of my patients who have taken Heliocare have told us about instances where they'll have a day where they have forgotten to take it out at the golf course and then the next day they'll take it and notice a definite difference in the amount of redness that they get," explained Bowers.

Dr. Bowers says the pill may benefit people who work and play in the sun, on the water, on the tennis court or on the golf course.

"Our kids that are outdoors that are playing sports, they may be on the golf team, the tennis team, those are the ones that can really benefit because they are getting so much damage right now that it's going to stay with them the rest of their lives," said Bowers.

As for Franz, she takes one pill a day, everyday.

"Because I got tired of having to come constantly to have lesions removed from my skin," she said.

Dermatologists say Heliocare does not replace sunscreen, but it does add another layer of protection. The FDA has not evaluated the supplement's claims. But numerous studies have shown the key ingredient in Heliocare does offer sun protection. Heliocare costs about a dollar a pill.

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