August 18, 2008
Experts Say Study Does Not Prove Skin Cream Risk
BRITISH scientists expressed caution yesterday over a new study suggesting popular moisturisers could increase the risk of skin cancer.
Researchers found mice exposed to UV radiation and treated with skin cream were more likely to develop tumours.
The academics, from Rutgers University in New Jersey, admitted that the significance of their results for humans had not been established.
Prof Jonathan Rees, grant chair of dermatology at Edinburgh University, said it would be "crazy" to stop using moisturisers based on a one-off study.
He pointed out that mice have very thin skin and live in the dark, unlike humans, whose bodies are designed for exposure to the sun.
"Studies of mouse skin cancer have contributed little to our understanding of human skin cancer..." he said.
"Extrapolation between the species for this aspect of biology is simply not warranted.
"For instance, it is well known that many agents that cause skin cancer in mice do not do soinman - indeed some of these agents are used as therapies."
He also emphasised the nonmelanom a skin cancers involved in the trial were very common in humans and "almost 100%curable".
Prof Brian Diffey, from Newcastle University's Institute of Cellular Medicine, said: "I am not dismissing the obvious extrapolation of their findings and if some constituents of moisturising creams are carcinogenic in humans, further work needs to be done to evaluate the real risk."
The US researchers came up with the unexpected results after setting out to examine whether adding caffeine to the skin cream Dermabase would help prevent cancer.
They first tested whether Dermabase had any carcinogenic effects on hairless mice placed under UV lamps to mimic exposure to the sun - and to their surprise discovered that it did.
Further experiments using three other moisturisers - Dermovan, Eucerin and Vanicream - showed an average 69%increase intumour growth rate.
T he authors concluded: "Further studies are needed to determine the effects of the widespread use of moisturising creams on the risk of sunlight-induced skin cancer in humans."
The study was published in the Journal of Investigative Dermatology.
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