Melanotan: Could it cause Skin Cancer ?

Written by on May 20, 2007 in melanotan with 86 Comments

This article from the DailyMail is offering some warnings about being too quick to jump on the Melanotan II bandwagon. It is worth remembering on top of all of the warnings below, that Melanotan specifically as a rosacea treatment is also something we know very little about. I think that the combination of rosacea sufferers desperate for relief, the relative ease of obtaining Melanotan, and the fact that so little is known about its effects, is a recipe for dangerous outcomes.

If you are visiting this page because you are curious about Melanotan side effects then please be aware that no-one anywhere in the world has medical approval to sell the peptides marketed as melanotan. Melanotan has never been brought to market, it is an old brand name that some are using to sell peptides of unknown origin. Thus your chance of unintended side effects when using grey-market peptides is likely to be high.

The only body that is developing melanocyte-active treatments is Clinuvel in Australia and they are bringing a product called Scenesse (formely afamelanotide) to market across Europe and in the US. This product is firstly targeted at a set of rare skin conditions that need strong protection from the sun and ultraviolet radiation.

Pretty pills: The dark side of the latest underground beauty trend

The drug, a synthetically produced hormone, was developed by researchers at the University of Arizona to combat skin cancer – it worked by increasing the levels of melanin, which is the body’s natural sun protection system.

However, Melanotan II was not a simple pill. It’s a hormone, which means it can’t be swallowed, as the chemicals in the gut would destroy it. It can, however, be introduced into the body through an implant under the skin or via an injection.

It has not yet been approved by the FDA in the US, nor is it a licensed drug in Britain. But this doesn’t mean it’s not easily available.

Several websites around the world, including one in the UK, sell Melanotan II and give users detailed instructions on how to dissolve the drug in water and inject it.

Alongside the potential side effects of nausea and flushing, some users are reporting that existing moles and freckles become darker, and that new moles and freckles also form.

Could it be that a product developed to tackle skin cancer might actually cause it? The honest answer is that we just don’t know.

Mark Birch-Machin, professor of molecular dermatology at the University of Newcastle upon Tyne, thinks that the original study into what the drug is capable of has some merit, but stresses that our knowledge of its application and its side-effects is patchy.

“Melanotan II hasn’t been around long enough for us to be able to look at the long-term effects this hormone could have on the body,” he says. “And taking any drug that hasn’t been extensively trialled will always have its potential dangers.”

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About the Author: David Pascoe started the Rosacea Support Group in October 1998. .

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86 Reader Comments

  1. lisa says:

    Iv been takin melonotan for 3 weeks and think its great iv had no side effects wot so ever best thing iv ever tried for a beautiful tan and will be carryin on using it

  2. Melon says:

    He I’m back again,
    I stopped using it as the side effects were so bad. I’m like an Italian and I only used four vials.A mole appeared on my right arm near that is painful and purple (lol), I’m going to the doctor tomorrow for something else so ill tell him and show him.

  3. sandy says:

    hi all! okay i have never used melanotan 2 but im thinking strongly about getting some. Im Irish, have very pale skin and some freckles.(Skin type 1) My only concern is the dakening of my freckles and the formation of new ones…When the rest of me tans, will my freckles be noticable? (i really dont want that) its a big fear i have about using this. Please tell me more if you have had any experience ith m2 and freckles. PLEASE!!! thanks,
    Sandy xxx

  4. Setanta says:

    Hi Sandal, my freckles have darkened, I look dirty and someone called me a sand monkey, I was white like the Casper!

  5. sandy says:

    hi setanta, has your tan blended in with the frckles though or are they very noticable? how long have you been on M2?

    • Chloe Mc says:

      Hi Sandy,
      I am Irish with fair skin and freckles. Yes my freckles worsened, but the bronze saturated my skin and within 3 weeks, it all blended together and now looks very nice. I’ve always easily tanned, despite my fair skin and light eyes, however after not going in sun for almost 8 years, this was a wonderful way to get tan prior to cruise, without spending more than ten minutes twice a day in sun.

  6. melon says:

    Back again,
    Went to the doc have a mole that changed so much it has to be removed, it went purple and got very sore. Im getting it removed on the 20th of july. Be careful with this stuff it works but nothing is really worth getting surgery for. I have nothing to gain or lose by telling you this just my view on it.

  7. Nathan O'Hare says:

    Hi I’m 14 and I have ADHD I have meletonin on prescription and I have to take two a night I have been taking this for a year now and I am wondering if there is a chance of skin cancer or not ??

  8. Rusty says:

    Hi Nathan,

    Melatonin and Melanotan are totally different substances. They have nothing in common — the names just happen to look similar. So you have nothing to worry about.

  9. Rhys James says:

    Hi Everyone,

    My name is Rhys James, I’m producing a documentary for VBS.tv, about people’s bodies, and what people use to keep themselves looking good.

    I am filming in Liverpool.

    I would like to get a couple of people on camera to talk about their experiences of Melanotan / MT2, whether it’s any good, any effects. I want to find out whether it is desirable to use.

    Please do not hesitate to get back to me, visit the website if you’re worried about authenticity, or email me on rhys@viceuk.com. It’s a really strong project and I would love to get this angle on it. Get back to me!

    Best Wishes,

    Rhys

  10. stefii kelly says:

    ermmmmm i am finkin about takin melanotan for the first time but am slightly worried about some of the side affects people have experienced…..

    however aswel as the negatives there seems to be positives about this drug but i am just worried (knowing my luck) i wil get the worse side effects…..

    i am pale skinned and have very few freckles
    i have tried the sunbeds but they only ever turn me red and i return straight bak to my normal colour

    i normally use fake tan but i really dont like the smell or been patchy wen it is coming off i prefer the ‘natural tan’ look

    should i risk it or just stick to the fake tan…????….
    views on this please stef

  11. melon says:

    Hi again,
    I have had two visits to the general surgeon and had five moles removed all within 8-12 weeks of stopping the tanning jab. Im almost certain its the reason why. I have approx 20 to 25 stitches already and will be getting another 3 out in january and I never had a problem. Maybe its a good thing to get them out and maybe its prevented something from happening. Just telling my story so you can judge for yourself.

  12. richie says:

    Firstly it has to be noted that the majority of new users of MT have never injected or been taught how to inject/mix peptides. With this in mind it is interesting and surprising to note that the number of adverse effects is not actually that high.

    The most common initial symptoms listed are actually common symptoms of having a needle of any sort injected, including placebo. This is basically an immune reaction to anything entering the body. Also many people feel queezy at just the thought of a needle, let alone actually injecting themselves. So while those initial symptoms are real……….what do you expect?

    In terms of short term issues that many are finding (eg ugly dark freckles and moles appearing). If you look stupid it is because you are stupid (no offence). Go slow! Your body is not a toy to just do a quick dump of melanotan in. If you are going to test, load slowly (slower than most recommend) so you can back away easily if results are not desirable. You should also use sunscreen when you go in the sun, sounds obvious but hey I guess results speak louder than logic when it comes to most users.

    Unfortunately with regards to long term implications no one really has much info on MT. But it is worth mentioning that whilst there is no substantial evidence to show it is safe, there is also no evidence to show it is unsafe (when used properly). It could be very safe but we just don’t know yet 🙁

    I am very disappointed though that Clinuvel will charge thousands for their implant whilst the manufacture of the product would be less than a dollar. Of course they had to do the research and FDA trials etc so I’m all for rewarding IP but lets be real, Clinuvel would still make billions if it released SCENESSE to the general public at MT2’s current pricing. Another case of greed getting in the way of inovation.

    Remember to have fun in the sun 🙂

  13. genuinely fearful says:

    Hi, this is a first for me righting on a forum, but here goes…
    I am 13days into using the injections. Last thrusday i found black patches of skin on a private area. I don’t mean a mole or a few freckles, i mean large patches of black brown skin. I look like i have vitiligo in reverse. It is now spread to my lips and the rims of my eye lids. I have never been so scared in my life. I went to my doctor and he said he has never seen anything like it. It has just got worse and so i went to A&E they weren’t much better. i also have lots of new freckles and moles esp on my face, i haven’t attained a nice even tan i look dirty!

    If anyone has any sort of answers or can think of anything to help me find out what is wrong with me please please get intouch. I am scared and i wish i’d never of hear of these injections.

  14. Rzr says:

    No idea how many of these reports are real, but thought I’d add my own. I am 80% through a 10ml vial, and probably am going to stop, and throw the remain 4 vials.
    I have tanned a bit (2 weeks I guess at most I’ve been using it), but the amount of dark freckles/moles I have developed is completely unacceptable to me.

    I have several on my face, and new ones cropping up on my body literally over night. They aren’t that unsightly, but looking in the mirror and seeing new blemishes every day completely negates any positive from this drug for me. I just hope they fade as I have been reading, but I doubt ever completely, which is a bit gutting! No other side effects noted, other than nausea for 10-15 mins post injection.

  15. Amy says:

    Hiya, My name is Amy, and i done my first injection last night after half 5… About 2 hours after i got sick twice and had hot sweats , however it wasnt nothing i couldnt handle .

    Feel completely fine this morning. I think i will literally take it just before i go to sleep now so i dont feel any side affects. Im really freckly anyway so i’m not too bothered about them getting darker.

    I’d just like to know how long it takes for you to start noticing a change in your skin colour?
    I have 17 days left till my holiday so 17 more injections, will i be brown do you think ?
    And should i go on sunbeds, as some people are saying it helps speed up the process, but others are saying theres no need.

    I’d prefer not to go on sunbeds but if its going to work better for me in 17 days then i might just do it.
    If anybody has any advice that would be great 🙂

    Oh and if i stop using it the day i go on holiday ( because im scared to take it the airport) will i still go real dark on holiday as its in my system already ?

  16. sars says:

    hi guys ive been taken melanotan2 4 3weeks now i have had no side effects at all i went from no freckles 2 about 10 on each arm and are dark now how long more doea anyone no that it will take to tan my skin ?? Regards sars

  17. joanie- geting a mole removed says:

    hello i took m2 for about 4months and regulary went on the sunbeds about 2-3 times to go brown, i did everyone one commemted on how brown i was some people even asked if i was half cast , i loved the colour i was the only bad thing i can say now is ive developed white patches at the top of my arms and they look awfull, also how many moles ive developed and how dark they are i went to the doctor who sent me to a specialised and they said i have to get a mole removed, i dont know weather it is cancerous yet he said it looke like a typical mole but i could go cancerous so it will get sent to a biopsy when its removed to find out if its cancerous or not. the only thing that worrried me though thats my sister developed cancer and she was only 23, thats preety young but that wasnt off m2 . the thing is though ive just ordered another 5months worth of m2 but im dont know weather to start taking it again becouse i realy dont want any more moles to develop can anyone tell me if il get alot more if i retake it again. and has any one ever got a mole removed and carryied on taking m2 or do you think im stupid to start taking it again after i have stopped for a month?

  18. Emma.T says:

    Joanie –

    If it was me, id probably wait for your biposy results however I have read SOOOO many storys about moles developing through the use of mt2 and the removal and screens of the moles and not read anything that suggests skin cancer!

    I was speaking to someone over facebook who left a post on a forum saying ……..
    ‘whatever you do dont take mt2 ive developed a mole the doctor is worried waiting for a biopsy i really believe i have cancer, would never touch the stuff again’ etc etc…. he left and when i spoke to him he said all was clear and he might take mt2 again… :/

    it darkens your pigment meaning skin, freckles and moles you didnt know you had!

    I have been taking for about the same time and have the white patches on top of arm too and a small one on my chest, but this is just pigment loss in an area of skin and ppl who tan without the jabs develop it too! I dont really mind them atall just love being bronzed 🙂

    Hope your results come back clear but wouldnt worry too much!!
    X

  19. kelis says:

    i started using melanotan a week ago after my boyfriend whos into bodybuilding started usin it and went absolutely chocolate, i have very fair freckly skin and have gone a tiny bit darker but have developed a few dark spots and loads of freckles, also it makes me feel sick as a dog so take it before bed…..ill give it one more week and if im still sick or get any more marks im done with it….
    kelis x

  20. Derek says:

    I’ve used Melanotan II for the first time this year. I’m 39 years of age and have NEVER gotten much of a tan in my life. I burn, not tan. I started off at 1mg daily at 1cc (use it before sleep, nausea sucks) and was actually able to cycle back to .5mg after 20 days. I’m 5’6 and weigh 165lbs for those interested. Yes, I did get a great tan, so much so that people who had known my pasty self were kinda freaked.
    Darker freckles are a result of the fact that you’re increasing the level of PIGMENT in your skin people!!!! Freckles exist because they are areas of your epidermis with higher levels of pigment. Increase the pigment for the rest of your skin and freckles will get correspondingly darker. White spots?? I know for a fact that in my youth I received some pretty nasty sunburns. From what I understand, the white spots that appear when using this product are as a result of previous skin damage. For those of us who have fair skin, obviously this is going to be more common, especially for those who have burned repeatedly.
    Aside from the tan I got, I received something far more precious. For the first summer of my life, I was able to walk in the sunshine and not burn. Although sunscreen is never a bad idea, I didn’t need to slather on SPF 60 to enjoy the beach or a patio. This product has a great potential to allow many of us who have loved the sun, but feared burning, to enjoy it.

  21. Derek says:

    Oh, sorry, for those interested, in the 20 days at 1mg I went to a stand-up bed twice a week at no more than 6 min each (4 min to start) and got a VERY dark tan. I am thinking that the levels required to achieve a protective tan may be MUCH lower than currently being circulated. Dosage is one of the reasons it’s still in development, and I guess it could depend on who knows how many factors. Just remember, caveat emptor.

  22. Chris says:

    Derek, those are words of wisdom. Dangerously dated dosing charts and high mg melanotan peptides are too much too often. Dosing too high makes you feel ill and there is absolutely no reason for it. Trends towards micro dosing and smaller peptide vial contents are promising. MT-II, for example, is so much more potent than people give credit…often until it is too late (and you are TOO tan!)

  23. Skye says:

    Hey guys –
    I have been taking melanotan for 4 days and have decided to stop.
    I got 5 freckles on the front of one of my arms – in simply 4 days.
    There are melanocytes – the receptors of melanin – in your heart and eyes. This means there will be changes to these tissues and as this drug is not approved I just can’t justify using this drug.. also, once I return to my normal colour – the freckles will remain and stand out. I don’t want to pay hundreds for laser removal.

    Please, really think about this – vanity is not worth your health.

  24. Dr MB says:

    Hi everyone.

    I don’t usually post on web forums, but as a doctor specialising in skin cancer in Australia I feel compelled to comment. This product is not approved in Australia, or anywhere in the world, for a very good reason. Like any medication, it has to be rigourously tested and proven to be safe over longitudinal studies before it is approved for public consumption. Given how huge the market would be for such a product if it was deemed safe, and the millions of dollars behind pharmaceutical companies pushing for its approval, there must be some serious concerns about its long term safety for it not to be approved given it has been toyed with since the 80’s. There is no doubt it makes freckles and moles darker, causes new ones to appear, and possibly (no data to support this) accelerates melanoma development in the process.

    My personal opinion is that if you are willing to risk all this in the name of vanity then your priorities in life are pretty distorted. Its only a tan people, not worth dying for.

  25. Chris says:

    First off it is approved in Italy and will soon be approved in many other countries. To date no serious side effects have ever occured from taking it. The only things that have happeded to people is mild facial flushing and feeling of muscle stretching, which disappears within a day. It is not linked to cancer, heart problems or any disease. Don’t listen to other people look at the data that backs it up. People on here are just trying to scare people in thinking that it is hazardous. Many people have been taking Melanotan since the 1980’s when it was first discovered and have yet to show any health problems.

    Just remember though if you try it, you should still avoid the sun or tanning beds at all costs because that will increase your chances of getting skin cancer. All you need is ~10 minutes of sun a day to get the health beneifits.

  26. Just to clarify Chris’s comments:

    Scenesse, not Melanotan, has been approved in Italy, and only for treating the condition erythropoietic protoporphyria (EPP).

    I doubt whether you can confidently say that no serious side effects have occurred – that statement would be hard to prove as correct.

  27. Amiee Kayte says:

    i have used melanotan 2 once as my sister is a body builder (Jayne tingle) search her on google and see her colour, now she started as white as a ghost and now she looks latino and has been taking it since she was 19/20 and is now 30 and has had no side effects what so ever her moles do get darker but it changes your pigments, what do u expect?! i have tried the drug and the results were amazing i am very white and after taking the stuff for 1 month i was asked where i was originally from from my partners mother-in-law after only just meeting her and she didn’t believe i was English and i have had many comments off people from my new job asking if i am Latino. i have got one white patch at the top left of my groin and that is the only one but that dosent bother me as i just put fake tan on that part so its unnoticable. i would recommend this product but its own personal preference, and i do agree with the labido concept of this drug as my sex drive is normally high but now it is tramendous!

  28. Mr.Blond91 says:

    Hi everyone 🙂
    I’ve been using this peptide (Melanotan 2) for several months now and I have noticed that almost all of my pre existing moles has gotten darker and I’ve got many new ones. I must admit that I’m concerned that some of my current moles can be malignant. I doubt that the MSH hormone itself could directly cause skin cancer. But an overstimulation of the melanocytes in the skin might be the reason why there are some reports of malignant moles in the “subject” after use of melanotan 2. Remember that reports of side-effects on grey market peptides are always individual, concidering where it’s made and by who, amount of dosage, pollution or bacteria inside the vail or needle, and how/what the peptide was mixed /with. In my case, I mix the melanotan with natriumchloride/sodium. Salt water(eye-drops 2ml) The reason why I use eye-drops is because in my country, I can’t get injectable natriumchloride without a doctors perscription.

    My original skin is white and i do have “redness” in my blond hair, so it’s like golden blond. I do have frecles in my face. My brother is a 100% “ginger” and on my mother’s side of the family there are a lot of red hair and frecles. After the use of melanotan my frecles disappeared. But I got some dark moles in my face and and on the rest of my body. I am going to my doctor so he/she can evaluate my moles and decide if it’s necessary to remove some of them. Considering the dark colour and the shape of some of my moles, the possibillity that some may be malignant is there.

    My question is, will my skin, after a period of usage of M2 be more capable/effective in the process of melanin(pigments) under the exposure of UV-radiation(Sun). Concidering that if you have been very tan a period of time, the skin will get a tan easier the next time.

    Thank you for reading my story =)

  29. Gene Yoder says:

    I have been using Melanotan since 2007 and it has worked wonders for me! I have a rosacea problem and its the only thing that seems to really work for me… I have double the moles that I use to have but I can deal with that if it helps my rosacea problem! I hope this drug will be approved someday. I dont like the idea of using something that hasnt been approved!

  30. isabella says:

    Hi!!!

    I’ve just bought this product and want to use it in the month before I go to Greece.
    If I am happy with my colour before I go, should I still expect to go darker whilst i’m away in the hot sun? If so, is there a chance I will go too dark?

  31. Sean Hearnden says:

    I did a LOT of research into this stuff before I even considered getting it. I knew all the risks, and what could happen.

    There are a lot of people on here freaking out going “I’ve got moles and freckles I’m stopping.” and “I got really sick so I stopped”

    You’ve clearly not read what can happen and almost deserve what’s happening. The nausea goes after about 2 days like most sites say, and if it doesn’t then you should drop the dose. 1mg is the MOST almost all sites say to take. I started on 0.5 then dropped it to 0.25 and I’m on my 5th day, I don’t feel ill at all, I’m starting to tan, no freckles, my moles are a little larger but that was to be expected and I feel and look great.

    My skin type is 2 as well.

  32. lynne says:

    Hi i need some advice i have been reading everything i can on melanotan and i am still unsure whether to take it i am scared of all the negatives i have read lol, i am a skin type one and live in the uk i spend a fortune on spray tans so this would be a god send i do have a few questions i am hoping someone will be able to answer, i am on hrt would this be a problem for taking this stuff, also i weigh 7 stone 6 pounds and i am 5ft 3inch and slim. What dosage would i need and how long would i need to do the loading phase and what dosage would i need to maintain the tan, sorry for the questions but it gets kind of confusing reading all the posts and information. I would appreciate any advice and how others have overcome the negatives cause to be honest the negatives terrify me especially the purple lips, moles and freckles cause i am a very pale person these would be really noticible on me and how long would it take for me to tan bear in mind in the uk the sun does not come out very often lol also if i did decide to take melanotan where would i be able to get some from and the water needed to mix it with, i have a question about the best needles to use some say insulin ones others say different which is the best to use thanks in advance for reading this and hope someone will be kind enough to answer these questions

  33. james says:

    i have,nt used melanotan 2 yet ,,but i was just wondering ,because i suffer from eczema on my face ,,would this new wonder drug ,so they call it ,,work for me ,,i constanly use steroid cream,s,will it inprve my skin condition ,it constanly flares up ,& is there any side affect ,,i love 2 try it ,but im worried if my problem will become worse ,if anyone has had wat i had & used the drug ,please let me no the out come …………..

  34. Gene Yoder says:

    Hi Lynne, I would be happy to help you… Email me your questions if you like and I would be happy to respond asap! My email is gene.goldstar@gmail.com
    I have been using Melanotan for 4years now… Thanks

  35. AMANDA says:

    i have been taking this for 3 years now and i dont go over board i took a full course first time and every 4 mnth s i just have a couple injections to top my self up and i have a perfect alll over tan !!! i did get a couple extra moles but these are tiny and worth it for a perfect all over tan and i not had any other side effects !! !

  36. Courtney says:

    arghhhhhhhhh im so confused i just purchased this product and not sure whether i want to use it or not. Please help

  37. Gene Yoder says:

    Hi Courtney, Believe me its not hard! What can I help you with?

  38. Worried says:

    I’ve been taking it for over a year now but with large gaps of time in between. Apart from the normal side effects that people stated (which I saw through) I went from being incredibly pale to having an almost mexican looking tan (as I moved abroad and was in the sun waaaaay more)! Like I NEVER tanned before, EVER. I simple burnt looking at the sun.

    However, now I am having major problems with it. I felt that when ever I stopped taking the injections, my mood swings became unpredictable and my mood was often low and negative. Also, I now have weird dark spots all over my nipples, which are incredibly bold in comparison to rest of my skin. They are about 40 shades darker that my skin and unmissable. I also (the same as WORRIED user, who commented above) have skin pigmentation in my vaginal area. I have a dark ring of skin coloring all around the lip area. I am now having to undergo tests with my doctor for skin cancer melanoma.

    Has anyone else experienced these symptoms? I beg you to contact me.

  39. Sally brown says:

    I have been using mt2 for 6 days now and have developed black speckles on inside of my mouth on inner cheek and some dark patches on my lower gum is this normal? And will it fade after loading period, any advise would be greatly received thank you

  40. Gene Yoder says:

    Hi Sally, This can be normal, however I would recommend taking the loading faze very slowly and allowing your body to adapt to the melontan. The biggest mistake that you can make is over doing it and over tanning! Good look. Gene

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