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    Eczema could lower risk of skin cancer

    Defects in the skin that cause eczema may also help to lower the risk of skin cancer, recent research suggests.

    Researchers with King’s College London used genetically engineered mice that lacked three skin barrier proteins to replicate skin defects often found in patients with eczema, according to a news release. They then compared the effects of two carcinogenic chemicals in both normal mice and the knock-out mice. The number of benign tumors in the knock-out mice was six times lower per mouse than in the normal mice.

    Both types of mice were equally susceptible to acquiring cancer-causing mutations, researchers noted, but the knock-out mice exhibited an exaggerated inflammatory reaction that resulted in enhanced shedding of potentially cancerous cells.

    “We are excited by our findings as they establish a clear link between cancer susceptibility and an allergic skin condition in our experimental model,” professor Fiona Watt, director of the Centre for Stem Cells and Regenerative Medicine and study co-author, said in the news release. “They also support the view that modifying the body’s immune system is an important strategy in treating cancer.”

    The study findings were published online May 6 in eLife

    Sarah Thuerk
    Sarah Thuerk is associate editor of Healthcare Traveler magazine.

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