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  • Unlicensed tanning drugs increase risk of cancer

    Posted on May 28th, 2013 TimB No comments

    Unlicensed tanning jabs commonly used and sold in beauty salons or bought over the internet increase the risk of cancer, doctors have warned.

    The Irish Medicines Board statement comes after a 33-year-old woman presented at St Vincent’s Hospital in Dublin with several irregular moles on her skin after receiving two injections of the so-called ‘Barbie Doll’ tanning drug, Melanotan, at a beautician’s.

    Doctors said, despite widespread bans and health warnings, the jabs were openly and easily available here at tanning parlours, spas and gyms.

    In the current edition of the Irish Medical Journal (IMJ), the medics said the case highlighted the risk of “possibly malignant melanoma” linked to the use of Melanotan injections. They said Melanotan is 1,000 times more powerful than the naturally occurring hormone that brings about tanning.

    According to doctors at St Vincent’s, the woman reported significant tanning within days of receiving the injections. However, after the first week she noticed multiple new darkly pigmented irregular moles appearing on her skin. She also noticed her existing moles had become darker and reported a new mole on her right thigh that was much darker than the others.

    The medics at the Dermatology and Pathology Departments at St Vincent’s Hospital found on examination there was an irregularity of pigment networks. They said the woman was a frequent sunbather and used sunbeds regularly. The lesion was removed and it turned out to be benign.

    The IMJ report stated Melanotan is not licensed for use in the EU, while the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in the US has also banned its use warning there is no evidence to state that it is safe or effective for its labelled uses.

    The medics said, in spite of all this, “the uncontrolled and unlicensed use of Melanotan to achieve tanning is widespread”. It is available as an injection or nasal spray over the internet and sold in tanning parlours, spas and gyms.

    The doctors said patients using Melanotan must be made aware of the risks and dermatologists, GPs, surgeons and other doctors when assessing pigmented lesions need to be aware of this tanning jab.

    Irish Examiner 28/5/2013

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