Friday, July 18, 2008
Medical Reports: Skin Cancer
What was once considered a healthy tan is now called a health risk. Every year more than one million people are diagnosed with dangerous forms of skin cancer. As Barbara West reports, researchers now say they've developed a drug that could save our skin from the sun.
WSVN -- Kathy Hermes: "Love the sun, always have."
Kathy Hermes is a self proclaimed sun goddess. Her family loves being outdoors, but she realizes soaking up rays is risky.
Kathy Hermes: "Skin cancer is a big concern, but it's not going to keep me out of the sun."
Sunscreen alone isn't always enough.
Elaine Jacobson, PhD, Biochemist University of Arizona: "As you age, this upper layer of the skin gets very thin and flattened. Now you've lost your protection that normally keeps the sun from penetrating deep into the skin."
At the University of Arizona Cancer Center, researchers developed a new drug aimed at preventing the most common non-melanoma skin cancer actinic keratosis.
The drug, from the vitamin niacin, is called myristyl nicotinate. It works with receptors in the upper layers of the skin to give it greater protection from dangerous UV rays.
Elaine Jacobson: "The amount of ultraviolet light that you can be exposed to before you get a sunburn is increased 10 to 20 percent."
The drug comes in the form of a skin cream. In two preliminary clinical trials, researchers say it proved safe and effective, strengthening the skin's barrier against sunlight.
Elaine Jacobson: "In a sense, myristyl nicotinate is giving you a biological SPF."
Elaine Jacobson: "It would be a good thing not to have to worry about it."
Doctors say Kathy and her kids still need to be careful, but the new drug could reduce the skin cancer risk for those who want their time in the sun.
Doctor Jacobson says the drug is not designed to take the place of sunscreen. A national FDA supervised clinical trial is next to see if the drug can prevent skin cancers in people who have already had the disease.
FOR MORE INFORMATION:
Elaine Jacobson, PhD University of Arizona/Arizona Cancer Center