Moisturisers may increase skin cancer risk

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Moisturisers used by millions of people may be increasing the risk of common skin cancer like melanoma, hinted by researchers. However, the researchers had cautioned that the experiments were carried out on mice, but the majority of moisturisers have not gone through skin cancer safety checks.

Dr Yao-Ping Lu and colleagues from the Susan Lehman Cullman Laboratory for Cancer Research at the Ernest Mario School of Pharmacy in New Jersey, USA, and colleagues from Cancer Institute in New Jersey and other universities, conducted the research. This is an animal study conducted on 270 specially bred female albino hairless mice known as SKH-1 mice.

Topical applications of 100mg of four of the creams (Dermabase, Dermovan, Eucerin Original Moisturizing Cream, or Vanicream) applied once a day, five days a week for 17 weeks to these high-risk mice significantly increased the number of tumours and the rate of increase in tumour size. The average increase in the total number of histologically defined tumours in the treated groups (Dermabase, Dermovan, Eucerin Original Moisturizing Cream, or Vanicream) compared to the untreated controls was 69%, 95%, 24% and 58%, for the four creams.

The researchers claim that their results indicate that several commercially available moisturising creams increase the speed at which tumours form and the eventual number of tumours when applied topically to high-risk mice, pre-treated with UV light. They go on to suggest that further studies are needed to determine the effects of topical applications of moisturising creams on sunlight-induced skin cancer in humans.

The study was supported in part by a grant from the National Institutes of Health and was published in the medical journal: Journal of Investigative Dermatology.

Lu Y-P, Lou Y-R, Xie J-G, et al. Tumorigenic Effect of Some Commonly Used Moisturizing Creams when Applied Topically to UVB-Pretreated High-Risk Mice. J Invest Dermatol 2008; Aug 14

Source: Journal of Investigative Dermatology, UK

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