Reader Question: I heard on the news that skin moisturizers can cause cancer. Is that true?
Don't panic. I assume you're taking about a study that was recently published in the Journal of Investigative Dermatology. Researchers exposed hairless mice to ultraviolet light twice a week for 20 weeks, then slathered them with moisturizer (Dermabase, Dermovan, Eucerin or Vanicream) five days a week for 17 weeks. The addition of the moisturizer dramatically increased the number of skin tumors that developed, but most of these mice would have developed some cancer from the UV exposure alone. And mice are not people; we simply don't know if these results will hold up for humans.
Interestingly, a new custom blend moisturizer did not increase the growth of skin tumors, and Johnson & Johnson has supposedly bought the patent. I'm sure we'll be hearing more about that later, so stay calm—but stay tuned.
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