Numbers of women ignore dramatic side effects for the sake of a beautiful tan.
Many women in the UK are lured by the opportunity to develop an even golden tan into injecting themselves with a tanning drug called Melanotan that has not been approved by regulating bodies and is considered to be illegal.
The so-called Barbie drug is easy to get hold of through Internet websites. The drug is sold in a pack of ten injections, which costs £30 and lasts for about a month. The illegal product has to be injected into the stomach on a weekly basis. Thousands of women across the UK ignore the warnings of experts about unknown long term damage and the numerous short term side effects and purchase the drug online or even from gyms and beauty salons.
According to current legal regulations of the UK, it is illegal to sell Melanotan, but not illegal to buy it. Regardless of these regulations, the tanning drug is easily found through the search engine Google. Numerous websites offer the illegal drug which can be sold in kits of 10 to 100 mg. The kit includes the chemical powder which produces tan and clean water for mixing. The consumers have to obtain needles themselves.
The online sellers have disclaimers that acknowledge the product has not been tested for safety and that the buyers should be aware of possible dangers to their health. Moreover, most websites avoid legal liability claiming that the drug is sold for ‘research purposes only’.
The drug works by tricking the skin into producing the melanin, the dark pigment that causes tanning. However, there have been no surveys to investigate possible long term damage the drug may cause such as risks of skin cancer, since Melanotan has never undergone any official medical trials. Moreover, it has never been medically approved for use in Britain or in any other country. Therefore, long term side effects could be unpredictable and it has not been established what a safe single dose should be.
Dermatologists and medical experts are concerned about the fact that the key ingredient of Melanotan works by activating melanocytes in the individual’s epidermis. Melanocytes are the skin cells that could become malignant in some forms of skin cancers, which leads experts to suspect possible links between the drug and increased risks of cancer in the long run.
Women have often experienced severe side effects right after the first injection, including being ill and not being able to get out of bed, sharp pain in the stomach, strong headaches, diziness, nausea, series of vomiting fits, uncontrollable spasms and darkening of moles. Moreover, depression, loss of appetite, nausea, high blood pressure, facial heatwaves and panic attacks have been reported.
Some consumers are even convinced that the illegal chemical is a healthier option than sunbeds, which are clinically proven to increase the risk of skin cancer.
However, experts insist that injecting oneself with an illegal and untested substance for the sake of vanity is a highly risky matter and that the true side effects could not become visible until years after the injections.