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Acne Cream Not Linked to Raised Death Risk
Date:1/23/2009

Analysis of VA study that was halted early says retinoid tretinoin not the culprit

FRIDAY, Jan. 23 (HealthDay News) -- A new analysis suggests that an acne medication that was tried as a possible skin cancer preventative in a 1998 clinical trial probably did not cause the deaths of several veterans participating in that research.

The earlier study was halted six months early, when a increased risk of death was seen in those using retinoid tretinoin cream when compared to those taking a placebo.

However, a closer look at the data from that trial did not uncover a definitive link between the treatment and an increased risk of death.

"We didn't see any evidence for a cause-and-effect relationship," said Dr. Martin Weinstock, chief of dermatology at VA Medical Center in Providence, R.I., and a professor of dermatology and community health at Brown University, also in Providence.

Weinstock was lead author of the latest analysis, which was published in the January issue of the Archives of Dermatology and was funded by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

"This shouldn't change clinical practice, and it's not going to change my clinical practice," added Dr. Jonette Keri, an assistant professor of dermatology and cutaneous surgery at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine and chief of dermatology at the Miami VA Hospital. "I think it's a very safe medicine with a lot of benefits."

Keri was one of the investigators on the original study, known as the Veterans Affairs Topical Tretinoin Chemoprevention (VATTC). The concept was to investigate whether a cream containing a high dose of retinoid tretinoin could keep certain types of skin cancer, particularly basal and squamous cell malignances, at bay in high-risk people.

"Systemic retinoids are known to be effective in reducing the risk of certain carcinomas in certain high-risk contexts such as renal transplant re
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