Cream That'll Give You a Natural Tan without Sun (and Cut Risk of Cancer)
Byline: Fiona MacRae Science Reporter
IT IS a problem that has perplexed many a woman - where to find fake tan that doesn't streak and smudge, not to mention give off a tell-tale orange glow.
Doctors could have the answer, in the form of a cream that triggers the skin's natural tanning mechanism, without the need for any sunlight.
Rubbed into skin, the cream kick-starts the production of melanin, the dark pigment needed for a tan. And activating the natural system should mean that the bronzing effect looks as good as the real thing.
As well, the 'fake tan' protects the skin from damage from the sun, cutting the odds of cancer.
Researcher David Fisher said: 'The primary goal of inducing melanin production in human skin would be the prevention of skin cancer, since all the common forms are known to be associated with UV exposure.
'Not only would increased melanin directly block UV radiation, but an alternative way to activate the tanning response could help dissuade people from sun-tanning or indoor tanning, both of which are known to raise skin cancer risk.'
The World Health Organisation recently declared sunbeds to be as great a health threat as cigarettes. Malignant melanoma, the most deadly of the skin cancers, affects more than 10,000 Britons each year and kills 2,000.
Sunbed use, cheap foreign holidays and a reluctance to wear sunscreen are blamed.
Dr Fisher's research centres on the chain of chemical reactions that cause the skin to produce melanin, leading it to brown in the sun.
Experiments on 'red-haired', sensitive-skinned mice revealed that a molecule called cAMP triggers the production of melanin.
Dr Fisher, of Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, then searched for drugs that would stop cAMP being broken down in the skin, so boosting its levels. …