Topical benzoyl peroxide (BPO) gel has long been used to treat acne vulgaris and has recently been combined with clindamycin (BPO-clin). No skin malignancies have been reported after clinical use of BPO, but there has been concern about the possible carcinogenicity of BPO alone and in combination with UV radiation.
BPO can promote skin tumorigenesis in a mouse skin chemical carcinogenesis model. As acne vulgaris is frequently localized on sun-exposed areas, we investigated whether BPO or BPO-clin accelerates photocarcinogenesis in combination with simulated solar radiation (SSR) in 12 groups of 25 hairless female C3.Cg/TifBomTac-immunocompetent mice.
BPO or BPO-clin was applied topically to the back five times each week, followed by SSR three times each week (2, 3, or 4 standard erythema doses) 3-4 h later, for 365 days or until death. Generally BPO and BPO-clin did not accelerate the time to first, second or third tumor. Therefore, there is no evidence suggesting that BPO or BPO-clin is photocarcinogenic.
However, we found significantly higher mortality in the SSR exposed groups receiving BPO and BPO-clin compared with groups receiving only BPO or BPO-clin. Our results show that BPO and the combination of BPO and clindamycin do not accelerate photocarcinogenesis, but are toxic in hairless mice. Based on the current data, the cancer risk associated with the use of BPO and BPO-clin in sun-exposed areas is minimal.
Thus, while the carcinogenic potential of BPO is not fully understood, at the present time, evidence suggests that this compound is safe to use.
"Photocarcinogenesis and toxicity of benzoyl peroxide in hairless mice after simulated solar radiation."
Exp Dermatol. 2009 Aug 23; Lerche CM, Philipsen PA, Poulsen T, Wulf HC
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