Skin Cancer Prevention

There have been many studies done to investigate different methods to prevent skin cancer. Some methods are extremely effective when used properly, such as sunscreen and topical antioxidants. However, there have also been attempts to try other topical creams that have not been successful at preventing skin cancer, such as tretinoin.

First, let’s clarify that there are two main types of skin cancer:  melanomas and keratinocyte cancers. “Melanomas are cancers that develop from melanocytes, the cells that make the brown pigment that gives skin its color. Melanocytes can also form benign growths called moles,” according to the American Skin Cancer Society.  Keratinocyte cancers (KCs) are non-melanoma cancers and are comprised of two different forms:  basal cell carcinoma (BCC) and squamous cell carcinoma (SCC). Both BCC and SCC start in cells known as keratinocytes, which are the most common cells in the skin. WebMD defines basal cell carcinoma as, “the most common form of skin cancer, accounting for more than 90% of all skin cancer cases in the U.S. These cancers almost never spread (metastasize) to other parts of the body. They can, however, cause damage by growing and invading surrounding tissue.” According to the Skin Cancer Foundation’s website, “Squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) is an uncontrolled growth of abnormal cells arising in the squamous cells, which compose most of the skin’s upper layers (the epidermis). SCC is mainly caused by cumulative UV exposure over the course of a lifetime. An estimated 700,000 cases of SCC are diagnosed each year in the US, resulting in approximately 2,500 deaths.”

Since skin cancer is a significant health risk, many studies have been done to find successful ways to prevent it. In the past, claims have been made that tretinoin works to prevent skin cancer. Tretinoin is a topically applied vitamin A derivative that has been proven effective at treating acne, as well as premature aging, such as fine lines and wrinkles. However, reports have been mixed as to whether tretinoin is able to prevent skin cancer.
A recent study sought to investigate tretinoin’s ability to prevent skin cancer. The results are outlined in an article from the February 2012 issue of the “Journal of Investigative Dermatology” titled, “Tretioin and the Prevention of Keratinocyte Carcinoma (Basal and Squamous cell Carcinoma of the Skin):  A Veterans Affairs Randomized Chemoprevention Trial”. In seeking to test tretinoin effectiveness at preventing skin cancer, the article reported that, “The effects were not significant. The proportions of the tretinoin and control groups who developed BCC at 5 years were 53 and 54% and an invasive SCC at 5 years were 28 and 31%.” The article concluded that, “This trial in high-risk patients demonstrates that high-dose topical tretinoin is ineffective at reducing the risk of KCs.” It is important to reiterate that this was a long-term study, so their findings point definitively to the bottom line:  tretinoin does not show any efficacy with regard to preventing either type of keratinocyte cancer.

So what can be done to protect the skin? A full-spectrum sunscreen combined with a potent antioxidant applied every day is the best defense against skin cancer.  Cloud Vitamin Cream’s Retinyl Palmitate is a powerful cream that acts both as a sun filter and an antioxidant. Cloud’s Retinyl Palmitate provides the skin with the protection it needs to prevent skin cancer.

February 24, 2014 by Cathy Mohr
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