Henry Lim, MD: Future Research, New Findings on Infrared Radiation's Effects

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In this interview segment, Dr. Lim further discussed findings from his team’s research into infrared radiation’s effects on the skin and the implications of these findings.

This segment of a new HCPLive interview featured a discussion with Henry Lim, MD, on his team’s recent research into the effects of infrared radiation (IR) on skin as well as the implications of the data.1

Lim is known in the field for his work as a dermatologist, researcher, and as Senior Vice President of Academic Affairs at Henry Ford Health System in Detroit, as well as the former chair of the Department of Dermatology.

He continued his discussion about his team’s major findings, noting the well-studied effects of UV rays compared to some of the less-studied effects of infrared radiation such as photoaging.

“Photoaging part is a good example,” he said. “What has been found is that in certain studies, it shows that infrared could cause photoaging changes. But on the other hand, as we highlight in the article, it is used quite a bit also for photo rejuvenation that is done in clinical study in human subjects, essentially. And there is data now to show that for infrared radiation, so called ‘photobiomodulation’ would induce beneficial effects of photorejuvenation. Again, data is not that strong yet, but there are quite a number of studies now pointing to that direction.”

Lim’s team had also noted in their research that IR could potentially offer photoprotective properties against the carcinogenic effects of ultraviolet radiation (UVR).

“Again, this is another sort of not so clear part of the effect of infrared because definitely, you know, there are suggestions that infrared could be used for carcinogenesis,” he said. “But indeed, there are also studies, both on animal studies, looking at infrared and ultraviolet light in terms of protective effects, as well as for the carcinogenic effect. Some studies showed that in the presence of infrared, these animals developed less cancer as compared to without infrared. Again, you know, these studies clearly need to be explored more.”

Lim also added to his point that the implications of these studies for human subjects are still not clear, though the evidence is interesting. He then was asked about the topic of photoprotection, sunscreen, antioxidants, and each of their relationship to the new findings.

“What we know is that currently available sunscreen in terms of the ultraviolet filters, those filters are designed to absorb or reflect ultraviolet exposure, radiation, and they're not designed to protect against the effect of infrared,” he explained. “So, there's an area that is a gap there that needs to be studied further together with industry to figure out if there is a way to protect against some of the potential side effects of exposure to infrared where we go out and expose ourselves to the sun.”

Lim then pointed out that what is known, however, is that IR can induce generation of reactive oxygen species.

“So, there have been quite a number of studies looking at the antioxidants incorporated into sunscreen nowadays, and I think the sunscreen companies have done a great job in being able to incorporate biologically-active antioxidants into the products. There have been studies to look at where the antioxidants incorporated into sunscreen would help to protect that particular side effect of the infrared. So, that is another area that is actively undergoing research.”

To learn more about Lim’s work and his team’s research, view the full interview segment above.

The quotes used in this article were edited for the purposes of clarity.

References

  1. Horton, L, Brady, J, Kincaid, CM, Torres, AE, Lim, HW. The effects of infrared radiation on the human skin. Photodermatol Photoimmunol Photomed. 2023; 00: 1-7. doi:10.1111/phpp.12899.
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