An interesting pastime for a blogger is to check out how readers come to find one's blog. The other day I noticed that a search term that has popped up a few times is 'lipofuscin'. For those of you who are interested, the most popular search terms are 'Marta and aging' - I'm trying not to take that the wrong way - and 'retinol'.

Anyway, back to lipofuscin. There is much more to lipofuscin than age spots (or 'liver spots' as they are typically called). Start to research this area and you'll soon be in the murky world of super 'brain' drugs and longevity theorists.

Liver spots is a misleading name (since they have absolutely nothing to do with the liver) for superficial lipofuscin and lipofuscin is a cellular pigment made up of chunks of molecular waste. Lipofuscin accumulates in the neurons, heart and skin as people age. It is now believed that itsn't just a marker of wear and tear, but actually contributes to the aging process.

Liver spots are not a sign of ill-health, they simply indicate that the skin cells are no longer regenerating properly. They can be prevented, or minimized, by wearing sunblock.

Once you have them, they can be reduced by using a retinol cream or, better still, a cream with 0.1% tretinoin. A study published by the Archives of Dermatology, suggests that tretinoin will reduce the appearance of liver spots by 37%. Chemical peels will also help. However, beware the Hayflick Limit.

Some nutricianists claim that the culprit is selenium deficiency. I was not able to find any evidence to support this. Ditto for vitamin E.

The most optimistic claims are made for centrophenoxine (a compund of two biochemicals, DMAE and pCPA). This is a nootropic - otherwise known as a 'smart drug' or 'brain enhancer'. Centrophenoxine reduces lipofuscin levels. It has also been demonstrated to increase alertness and improve memory. Although widely available in France, it is not FDA approved for the US.