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article imageStudy: Drug used in treating cancer found to improve aging skin

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By Nikki Weingartner     Jun 17, 2009 in Health
Secondary benefits of prescription medications is not an uncommon find in the world of medicine. In the past, patients treated with a chemotherapy drug for certain cancers noted skin improvement. A new study confirms anti-aging results.
A topical prescription cream currently on the market for treating precancerous lesions caused by sun damage may have a secondary and much more appealing use. A study published this month in the Archives of Dermatology revealed that out of 21 patients on the study, nearly 90 per cent reported anywhere between mild to moderate improvement in their skin's wrinkles and another 75 per cent stating sun damage was much or moderately improved.
During the two-week study, patients between the ages of 56-85 who had sun damaged skin applied the 5 per cent fluorouracil cream known as Efudex twice daily to their skin. After some itchiness and facial peeling, an improved dermal layer emerged, resulting in better looking skin.
Some specific results include a decrease in the average number of actinic keratoses lesions of 11.6 per person to 1.5 per person, decrease and softening of wrinkles and improvements in dark skin spots.
Official study conclusions explain the results as:
Topical fluorouracil causes epidermal injury, which stimulates wound healing and dermal remodeling resulting in improved appearance. The mechanism of topical fluorouracil in photoaged skin follows a predictable wound healing pattern of events reminiscent of that seen with laser treatment of photoaging.
The study lead, Dana L. Sachs, M.D., University of Michigan, stated in a report that although the results were positive and the chemotherapy drug was generally tolerated in it's topical form, there were some minor problems with discomfort, with only one study patient experiencing severe inflammation of the skin.
Despite the itchy peeling skin and the treatment being moderately uncomfortable, 17 out of 19 happy users said they would pay for the treatment directly out of pocket. The treatment would be less costly than laser resurfacing, although the compared results of the two treatments may not be exactly the same.
Patients who were treated with systemic fluorouracil for colon, head and neck, pancreas and other cancers have noted a change in the appearance of their skin, prompting the development of the cream. For many, the future of better looking skin could be found in a tiny tube.
The small-scale study was funded by Valeant Pharmaceuticals International, the makers of Efudex and other dermatological drugs used for acne, psoriasis, scars and pigmentation problems. The company is located in many areas around the globe including Canada, the US, Latin America, Australia and Europe.
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