Moisturisers cause cancer in mice – but don't panic

时间:2019-03-01 10:02:13166网络整理admin

By Tamsin Osborne Research on mice suggests that moisturising creams increase the risk of common skin cancers – but there’s no need to throw away your moisturiser just yet. “We don’t know whether or not there’s an effect in people,” says Allan Conney of Rutgers University, Piscataway, New Jersey, who carried out the study. Conney and colleagues discovered, by accident, that moisturisers increase the carcinogenic effects of UV damage while they were investigating how caffeine levels affected the development of skin cancer. Apparently inert moisturising cream was used as a vehicle for caffeine, but the team found it had unexpected tumorigenic activity. The team tested four common moisturisers, Dermabase, Dermovan, Eucerin and Vanicream, on hairless mice that had previously been exposed to UV irradiation twice a week for 20 weeks. This put them at high risk of developing non-lethal skin cancer later on. Although UV-exposed mice that were not treated with moisturiser did develop skin cancer, those who were treated with moisturisers developed more tumours of a larger size and at a higher rate than the controls. “We tested a total of four moisturising creams, and all four of them had tumorigenic activity,” says Conney. The resultant skin cancers were basal cell and squamous cell carcinomas, and not the more lethal melanomas. The ingredients responsible for this effect remain a mystery, but two prime suspects are mineral oil, which has been shown to be tumorigenic in animal models, and sodium lauryl sulphate, a known irritant. The researchers tested a cream they made themselves without these ingredients. Their own product – for which the group have filed a patent application – did not cause a significant increase in tumour formation. However, some of the creams that did show tumorigenic activity did not contain the suspect compounds. “The products they tested had multiple ingredients with no consistent overlap, so it is hard to identify which agents – if any – could be implicated,” says David Leffell of Yale School of Medicine, who was not part of the study. Leffell also highlights important differences between mice and men. The skin of mice is much thinner, so we cannot conclude that the same effects would be noted in humans. What’s more, there are several agents that are known to cause skin cancer in mice but do not have the same effect in people. “Moisturizers are used more in women than in men, yet we do not see a relative increase in skin cancer in women compared with men,” he adds. Gordon McVie, of the European Institute of Oncology, in Milan, Italy, agrees, but points out that the study still raises an important point: “There is no evidence of danger to humans in this study, but the message to scientists is clear. Be careful in assuming that seemingly inert creams will have no interference with animal experiments.” Journal reference: Journal of Investigative Dermatology (DOI: 10.1038/jid.2008.241) Cancer – Learn more about one of the world’s biggest killers in our comprehensive special report. More on these topics: