Is this injectable tanning drug safe to use?
Most Australians recognize with the Cancer Council’s slogans reminding us to “slip, slop, slap”, which “there’s nothing healthy about a tan”.
Now a controversial injectable tanning agent Melanotan is growing in popularity. How safe is it, and can it protect us from the sun’s damage?
What is Melanotan?
Referred to as “Mel”, “MT” or “the Barbie drug”, Melanotan is an artificial melanocortin, which is a hormonal agent originated from the pituitary gland at the base of the brain that manages growth and development.
It assists to speed up the production of melanin, the pigment that absorbs ultraviolet radiation and gives skin its colour. When provided by injection over the course of just a week, Melanotan has the impact of (semi-permanently) darkening the skin, as though tanned by the sun.
Developed in the 1980s by researchers at the University of Arizona, Melanotan is principally used for the treatment of skin disorders consisting of vitiligo and erythropoietic protoporphyria that affect skin look and level of sensitivity (particularly to sunlight). By promoting melanin in the skin, Melanotan can help relieve the symptoms of these conditions and make it possible for those identified to live a more normal life.
Nevertheless, Melanotan’s tanning ability and prospective usage as a “natural” photoprotectant (that helps to prevent damage triggered by sunlight) has actually also gotten much public interest, and led to its appropriation as a way of life drug.
The reasoning behind this pattern is that developing tanned skin (by increasing melanin) with minimal to no sun exposure could safeguard individuals from skin damage, and even possibly lower cancer malignancy risk. More melanin indicates more security from UV radiation, and for that reason a healthier (and conveniently, much deeper) skin tone. In this sense, there is possibly a kernel of reality to the concept of the “healthy glow”.
Is it safe to use?
Scientific trials of the safety and effectiveness of Melanotan are continuous, however in 2008 the European Medicines Agency authorized a blend of the peptide called Scenesse to be marketed for limited prescription-only use by those with particular skin conditions throughout the European Union.
Nevertheless, there are no published scientific trials of the drug among people without these disorders. This indicates its long-lasting efficacy and security for usage in the basic population is unidentified.
In Australia, Melanotan use is uncontrolled. Although the drug is currently recorded in Arrange 4 (prescription only medications) of the Therapeutic Item Administration’s Poisons Requirement, no items containing Melanotan are registered for use in Australia.
This suggests while there are rumours of some professionals recommending the drug, the majority of practitioners warn against– and will not recommend– Melanotan for aesthetic or way of life functions.
There are currently no population-based studies on Melanotan to show the level of its use, however, there are reports of its increased off-label usage in the UK.
Most of users source the drug via “underground” online suppliers at expenses varying from A$ 30-50 for a one-month supply, and self-administer the injections in the house. Users report a variety of short-lived side effects including facial flushing, nausea, short-term freckling and darkening of moles, and in some males, spontaneous erections.
There is a possibility Melanotan might some day provide a practical option to achieving a “healthy tan” in line with current western beauty ideals. However it also produces brand-new kinds of danger worrying needle safety, unsettling patient-practitioner relationships by means of uncontrolled usage, and the subversion of public health messages that groups such as Cancer Council Australia have worked for decades to promote.
Melanotan in WikiPedia
Melanotan II is a synthetic analogue of the peptide hormone α-melanocyte-stimulating hormone (α-MSH) that stimulates melanogenesis and increases sexual arousal.
It was under development as drug candidate for female sexual dysfunction and erectile dysfunction but clinical development ceased by 2003, and as of 2018, no product containing melanotan II was marketed and all commercial development had ceased.
Unlicensed, untested, or fraudulent products sold as “melanotan II” are found on the Internet, and purported to be effective as “tanning drugs”, though side effects such as uneven pigmentation (it makes already uneven pigmentation more noticeable), new nevi (moles), and darkening or enlargement of existing moles have been reported and have led to medical authorities discouraging its use. There has been no scientific study into the long term and permanent side effects the use of this peptide may cause.
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