Illegal tan jab hides cancer signs

Unlicensed tanning injection 'increases' mole size

An illegal drug, injected to produce a tan, could be the cause of dangerous changes in moles, say doctors.

Melanotan, an unlicensed medicine commonly known as the ‘tan jab’, could mean that skin cancer goes undetected or is wrongly diagnosed.

At a cost of £250, the injection is available over the internet or under the counter in some health clubs.

It works by tricking the skin into making melanin – the skin’s dark pigment which gives us a tan. Initially the jab was hailed something of a wonder drug after side effects included increased libido, but more recently it has come under fire for changing mole size.

Two women from Salford who had used Melanotan and subsequently noticed skin changes visited dermatologists. One discovered a mole on her foot had increased in size and darkened in a matter or weeks, while the other said moles on her back had darkened quickly.

Medical watchdogs have issued warnings about the jabs, according to the British Medical Journal.

A spokesman for the British Skin Foundation commented: ‘People may think that this drug is a safe alternative to sunbeds and sunbathing because it doesn’t require UV light.

‘They may even think it offers sun protection, but the protection offered by a natural tan is minimal, and when it comes to an injectable, unlicensed drug, we have no idea what side effects it may incur.’

He added: ‘The product hasn’t yet undergone the necessary safety tests to be legally sold in this country.

‘There are other ways to get a tan without the risks of using an unregulated product, so until it gets the all clear for use on humans, stick to spray tans and self tanning lotions instead.’

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