Many of us have tried rubbing anti-aging creams on our faces and bodies to eliminate wrinkles, but what if taking a pill could yield better results? New Scientist is reporting that a new three-a-day "gene food" capsule may be a more affordable, less painful alternative to Botox, and possibly the first pill of its kind to succeed in banishing wrinkles from the inside out.

Scientist John Casey and his team at the Unilever labs in Sharnbrook, UK are using natural food extracts like vitamin E, vitamin C, omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids from fish oil, isoflavones from soya, and lycopene to activate genes that smooth out skin. According to New Scientist, prior to menopause, oestrogen production declines and proteases enzymes work harder, which removes elastic collagen faster than it is replaced.

Oestrogen receptors are also not working as well, which slows down collagen production. Overall this makes the skin wrinklier, but the extracts in these pills with change the behavior of certain genes and keep the collagen coming.

Unilever commissioned four different research groups to test the pills along with 480 post-menopausal women in the UK, France, and Germany. New Scientist was shown physical results after women took the pill three times a day for 14 weeks: crow's feet are said to become 10% shallower on average during that time, although some testers found a 30% decrease in wrinkles. Researchers advise taking the pills for at least three months to see the best results.

Overall, researchers feel optimistic about the new drug and the double-blind testing that's been done thus far. "What matters is the clinical data, and they show there are reduced wrinkles in the treated group," Richard Weller, a dermatologist at Edinburgh Royal Infirmary, UK, told New Scientist. "I'm not aware of any [other] oral treatments that do this." David Sarwer of the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, told New Scientist that the results thus far are great but "we need a number of studies in this area, with similar results and published in the peer-reviewed literature, before we have a sufficient body of evidence to suggest that these supplements positively impact facial appearance."

Nichola Rumsay of the Centre for Appearance Research at the University of the West of England in Bristol told New Scientist that while a pill like this would be less invasive than plastic surgery, we shouldn't necessarily be viewing wrinkles as something that need to be eradicated. "We should be accepting wrinkles gracefully. Someone should develop a pill to stop people worrying about their appearance," she said. "That would make people a lot happier."

Unilever will launch the capsules next month in 44 spas that it co-owns in the UK, Spain and Canada, and they don't need any special approval since the extracts used are already in use and the company isn't claiming they benefit your health. It will be interesting to see how well the pills sell, and if they make it to the rest of the world soon after.

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