Moisturizers May Increase Skin Cancers in High-Risk Mice

Different creams affect the size and formation of tumors in animal study

FRIDAY, Aug. 15 (HealthDay News) -- Regular use of certain commercially available moisturizers can increase the size and formation of skin tumors in a mouse model of sunlight-induced skin cancer, according to study findings published online Aug. 14 in the Journal of Investigative Dermatology.

Yao-Ping Lu, Ph.D., from Rutgers University in Piscataway, N.J., and colleagues examined the effect of topical application of several commercially available moisturizers (100 mg Dermabase, Dermovan, Eucerin Original Moisturizing Cream, Vanicream, and a custom blend) to mice already at high risk of developing skin tumors due to regular exposure to ultraviolet-B (UVB) radiation.

The researchers found that application of Dermabase, Dermovan, Eucerin and Vanicream once a day, five days a week for 17 weeks significantly increased the rate of tumor formation and rate of increase in tumor size. The number of tumors increased by 24 to 95 percent, depending on the moisturizer. In contrast, the custom blend was not tumorigenic.

"It should be emphasized that our study…[was] only done in hairless SKH-1 mice, and [its] significance for humans has not been established. Further studies are needed to determine the effects of the widespread use of moisturizing creams on the risk of sunlight-induced skin cancer in humans," Lu and colleagues conclude.

A patent application for the custom blend cream was filed on behalf of Johnson & Johnson and Rutgers.

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