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Did you know that close to eight million US adults still undergo indoor tanning even up to now? That’s despite all the risks associated with the activity, including melanoma development. Experts even warn that it could cause up to 400,000 cases of skin cancer each year.
At the same time, the increased awareness of such risks has made people turn to alternatives. Melanotan 2, an injectable drug, is one example; some people use it to achieve a tan. It doesn’t involve UV exposure, just regular administration of subcutaneous injections.
So, does that mean Melanotan 2 is safe to use? What is it in the first place, and is it even legal in the United States?
We’ll answer all those questions in this guide, so be sure to keep reading.
What Is Melanotan 2?
According to this post here, Melanotan 2 is an injectable tanning solution. It’s a synthetic (lab-made) chemical also referred to as Melanotan II, MTII, or MT2. It’s similar to melanocyte-stimulating hormone (MSH), a natural substance produced by the body.
MSH, in turn, is a group of peptide hormones that plays a role in producing melanin, the pigment that colors the skin. The more MSH produced by the body, the more melanin it creates. Therefore, higher melanin levels translate to darker skin.
As such, MT2 manufacturers claim their products can help darken the skin.
In addition, some studies found that MT2 may enhance sexual function and desire. So, it’s not surprising that some people with erectile dysfunction use it to get erections.
How True Is It That Melanotan 2 Can Cause Tanning?
Previous research found that using Melanotan 2 results in tanning activity in humans.
For instance, one study looked at the effects of the drug in three male volunteers. The researchers gave them a low Melanotan 2 dosage for two consecutive weeks.
At the end of the first week, the researchers noted an increased pigmentation in some body areas. These include the face, upper body, and buttocks.
Those findings have also led to the scientists recommending an MT2 dose of 0.025 mg/kg/day for future studies.
So, Are Melanotan 2 Injections Legal in the US?
The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) hasn’t approved Melanotan 2 for public use. That makes it an unauthorized medicinal product in the United States. Many other places, such as the United Kingdom and Europe, have similar laws.
With that said, Melanotan 2 is only illegal if marketed or sold for commercial use. However, it’s available for academic laboratory research purposes.
Why Hasn’t the FDA Approved Commercial Melanotan 2?
One reason is that there aren’t many studies conducted on Melanotan 2. The thing is, drug manufacturers seeking to sell drugs in the US must first test their products.
There’s a lot of tests involved, starting with laboratory research on animal models. That allows the drug makers to determine if their product works and how likely it is to work in humans. It also lets them assess the drug’s safety for human use.
If the drug appears safe on animals, drugmakers can proceed to human testing. Doing so enables them to confirm the drug’s safety, efficacy, and potential benefits.
From there, the test results get sent to the Center for Drug Evaluation and Research (CDER).
The CDER is the primary body that reviews data on tested drugs seeking FDA approval. For example, it analyzes the products’ health benefits and risks. If the former outweighs the latter, the FDA approves the medications.
Unfortunately, researchers are still in the process of studying Melanotan 2. As a result, there isn’t enough data to confirm its efficacy and safety. That’s why more studies are necessary before the FDA may approve the drug for commercial use.
What Are Potential Melanotan 2 Side Effects?
One small observational study found that fatigue was a common side effect of using MT2. Melanotan 1, another synthetic tanning injection, caused similar adverse effects. Some participants who used MT2 also reported appetite loss and penile dysfunction.
Aside from those side effects, there may also be a connection between MT2 and kidney failure. According to one study, MT2 may induce renal infarction, a life-threatening condition. However, the researchers also note that’s there’s only one known case of such event.
Still, that’s enough to warrant more studies on the effects of Melanotan 2 on kidney health.
The incorrect administration of MT2 may also give rise to injection risks. That includes hepatitis B and C, which can spread by sharing needles and syringes. Note that both viral infections are common in the US, affecting up to 3.6 million people in total.
Nerve damage may also occur as a result of improper injection administration. For example, an MT2 injection can damage a nerve through direct needle trauma.
Other risks associated with self-injected drugs are infectious complications. For instance, using germ-infected syringes or needles can lead to skin infections. Worse, the blood itself may get infected, which may then cause septicemia or sepsis.
Last but not least, tanning injections, including MT2, don’t undergo proper regulation. The FDA, after all, hasn’t approved their use, and therefore, doesn’t regulate them as a drug. Because of that, such products sold in the commercial sector may contain impurities.
Getting a Tan the Safer Way
While Melanotan 2 can cause tanning, it’s wise to wait for more conclusive studies before using it. Better yet, it’s best to wait for the FDA to approve and legalize its commercial use. That way, you can ensure the products you’ll use are safe and effective.
In the meantime, you can take advantage of the sun to get a tan, but make sure you apply sunscreen. Doing so can help your skin brown without burning.
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