Some Skin Care Cream may have Risk of Cancer
According to a new study by researchers at Rutgers University in New Jersey, several commonly used skin creams may cause skin tumors – at least in mice, Reuters reported.
Dr. Allan Conney, professor of cancer and leukemia research at Rutgers, discovered the risk while testing a theory that caffeine could prevent skin cancer, according to the report.
"We sort of got into this by accident," Conney told Reuters. "We wanted a safe cream that we could put the caffeine into."
Conney and colleagues stumbled across the findings after they exposed hairless mice to ultraviolet radiation to mimic sun exposure. Afterward, they applied four popular moisturizers to the mice.
What they found was that all four Dermabase, Dermavan, Eucerin and Vanicream – caused tumors to grow on the mice. The report is published in the Journal of Investigative Dermatology.
The cancers were not melanomas, the researchers said in their report, but another type called squamous cell carcinoma. The basal cell and squamous cell carcinomas, not often fatal like melanomas but potentially dangerous or disfiguring.
“It can destroy your eye, it can destroy your ear, it can destroy your nose. “It can grow into your skull, into your carotid artery. Once you have had one of these cancers, you’re at increased risk to have another, and the more times you have had it, the higher the risk of you developing even more.
This type of cancer results when cells in the skin start to change, the National Institutes of Health said on its Web site. It’s relatively slow-growing and can spread to other locations, including internal organs.
Risks for the cancer include:
- Exposure to sunlight and ultraviolet radiation
- A large number of x-rays
- Chemical exposure
- Having light-colored skin, blue or green eyes, or blonde or red hair
- Older age
While researchers said the results should prompt experts to check to see if these creams cause growths in people as well – other experts were quite skeptical of the study.
"This is a pretty artificial situation with the mouse skin primed by a lot of UV light to develop cancer," Karol Sikora, medical director of Cancer Partners U.K. in Britain, said in a statement.
Treatment for squamous cell carcinoma depends on how big the tumor is, its location and how much it has spread. But, the good news is that skin cancer is highly curable if caught early, according to the NIH.
More than 1 million cases of non-melanoma skin cancer diagnosed yearly in the United States are considered to be sun-related, according to the American Cancer Society. Non-melanoma skin cancer, the most common type of cancer affecting humans, occurs in either basal cells or squamous cells. Those cancers typically occur in sun-exposed areas.
Most skin cancers are caused by ultraviolet (UV) light exposure to the skin by sunlight or man-made tanning lamps. There is strong epidemiologic evidence supporting a relationship between UV light exposure and non-melanoma skin cancer and a growing evidence of a relationship between indoor tanning and melanoma.
Don't buy skin care cream without reading the label carefully. There are some things that you want in your skin care moisturizer cream and some things that you do not want on your face, hands or body, because they either cause cancer or have been linked to cancer. Basically, if it's not appealing to your taste buds, don't put it on your skin.
First let's look at some of the ingredients to avoid. Skin care cream should not contain Acrylamide, because several studies have linked it to cancerous breast tumors. DEA, MEA and TEA are sometime added to skin care moisturizer cream to adjust the pH level.
They are restricted by the Europe Union's edict on cosmetic safety. But, there is no such restriction imposed by the FDA in the United States, even though they are known to carcinogens. The FDA is very unconcerned about the safety of skin care cream, as long as the product label says "not to be taken internally". But, anyone who has every used a medicated trans-dermal patch knows that chemicals pass "through" the skin's layers. Maybe, FDA officials need a better education.
Look for products that have earned The Skin Cancer Foundation's Seal of Recommendation. To earn the Seal of Recommendation, a manufacturer must prove that its product sufficiently and safely "aids in the prevention of sun-induced damage to the skin."