The beta blocker carvedilol, commonly used to manage hypertension, can protect against the sun-induced cell damage that leads to skin cancer, according to a presentation at the American Society for Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics (ASPET) annual meeting at Experimental Biology (EB) 2017.

Sherry Liang, a graduate student at the Western University of Health Sciences College of Pharmacy, in Pomona, California, reported that these study findings could lead to a new class of cancer-preventive agents. In this study, the researchers gave carvedilol to hairless mice that were exposed to ultraviolet-B (UVB) sunlight. Both the severity and number of tumors that developed decreased in these mice compared to mice not given the beta blocker. The mouse studies also showed that carvedilol was more effective at delaying skin tumor formation than sunscreen.

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The researchers discovered, however, that not all beta blockers demonstrate cancer preventive properties, indicating that the cancer-fighting beta blockers likely act on not-yet-identified molecules. Their goal is to incorporate carvedilol or similar beta blockers in a skin cream or spray formulation that could prevent skin cancer from UV light exposure.


1. Liang S, Huang K, Andresen B, Huang Y. The β-blocker carvedilol blocks UVB-induced DNA damage and apoptosis of skin [Abstract D151 996.2]. Presented at: American Society for Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics at the Experimental Biology 2017 Annual Meeting; April 22-26, 2017; Chicago, IL.