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Mice cancer study "irrelevant"

A new study suggesting popular moisturisers could increase the risk of skin cancer has been greeted with caution by British scientists.

Researchers at Rutgers University in New Jersey, US, found that mice exposed to UV radiation and treated with skin cream were more likely to develop tumours. But a moisturiser not containing the ingredients thought to cause the damage did not have the same effect.

The academics admitted that the significance of their results for humans had not been established.

Professor Jonathan Rees, the head of dermatology at Edinburgh University, said it would be "crazy" to stop using moisturisers based on a one-off study.

He pointed out that biology of mice's skin compared with that of humans is very different. Mice have very thin skin and live in the dark, while human bodies are designed for exposure to the sun, he said.

"Extrapolation between the species for this aspect of biology is simply not warranted," Professor Rees added.

"When contrasted with the known biology of human skin cancer and the pattern of human skin cream use, it seems to me extraordinarily unlikely that the presented results have any clinical relevance."

The study was published in the Journal of Investigative Dermatology.

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Journal of Investigative Dermatology