Prepared Foods September 6, 2005 eNewsletter

Eating three portions of fish a week could offer significant protection from the sun, scientists have found.

Over time, it could provide a natural defense similar to sun cream. Volunteers improved their resistance to harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays by a third after three months.

Fish oil is already known to provide a host of benefits, including improved concentration in children and protection against heart disease and dementia.

The latest discovery suggests it could also help cut the soaring numbers of patients developing skin cancer.

As with its other benefits, it is the omega-3 fatty acids in oily fish such as salmon, mackerel and sardines that protect the skin against the DNA damage that causes the disease. Researchers from Manchester University gave fish oil to 42 healthy people in the form of supplements equivalent to three portions a week.

In just a month, volunteers were noticeably less likely to burn than before taking the oil. A second group who suffered sun allergies doubled their skin's defense from UV rays after six months.