We now know why skin aging promotes cancer

We now know why skin aging promotes cancer

Over time, the risk of getting skin cancer increases in both men and women. But according to a recent study, this comes partly from the loss of elasticity of our skin.

17,922 new cases of cutaneous melanomas were discovered in Europe in 2023, according to the National Cancer Institute. A skin cell disease, capable of developing into cancer, which affects both men and women. The site also points out that 80% of skin melanomas develop from healthy skin. But a new study has just brought a little clarification to this fact: the loss of elasticity of the skin could promote the development of melanoma in the elderly.

When the skin loses elasticity, tumor cells spread better

The study was conducted by the Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center and published on March 12.“As we age, the rigidity of our skin changes”explains Ashani Weeraratna, associate director of research, who saw it as an area for exploration.

However, scientists have found that this increased stiffness increases the release of a protein called “ICAM1”, and that high levels of it stimulate the growth of blood vessels in the tumor, helping it to grow. The protein would also make blood vessels “leaky,” allowing tumor cells to spread more easily throughout the body.

Another protein called “HAPLN1” which helps “maintain the structure of the extracellular matrix, a network of molecules and minerals that provide structural support, to maintain the suppleness of the skin”, would diminish with age and cause this rigidity. In other words, less HAPLN1 production indirectly increases tumor-stimulating ICAM1 levels. This is called angiogenesis, when the growth of new blood vessels provides tumors with nutrients and helps them grow.

Treatment being tested to shrink tumors

The discovery would also provide a solution. So far, therapies targeting growth factors contributing to angiogenesis have failed in many tumor types,”especially melanoma. indicate the researchers. They thus had the idea of ​​a drug capable of blocking the ICAM1 protein, which they tested on rodents. With good results: this treatment was able to reduce tumors and metastases in small subjects. The path would therefore be promising.

“Angiogenesis is essential for wound healing not only of the skin, but also preserves the cardiovascular system and the brain, explains Dr. Weeraratna. Scientists hope to develop treatments that could reduce the mortality rates associated with these pathologies.