Bride-to-be died after injecting self-tan drug: Hormone jab is linked to heart problems

  • Jenna Vickers found slumped in cubicle topping up tan on Monday morning
  • Weeks earlier bought illegal melanotan II injections from UK website

By Liz Hull

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A bride-to-be who was obsessed with having bronzed skin died in a sunbed salon only weeks after injecting herself with banned tanning drugs.

Jenna Vickers, 26, collapsed inside a cubicle at the shop after telling friends she was ‘very happy’ with the unlicensed tanning products.

It is believed she had bought a £25 kit containing melanotan off the internet three weeks earlier.

Tragic: Fair-skinned Jenna Vickers, centre, poses with friends on a night out. She died after taking illegal injections for getting a better tan

Tragic: Fair-skinned Jenna Vickers, centre, poses with friends on a night out celebrating her birthday. She died after taking illegal injections to get a better tan

Beauty conscious: Miss Vickers was keen to use sun beds to get a tan and online conversations suggest she was using controversial injections for darker skin

Beauty conscious: Miss Vickers was keen to use sun beds to get a tan and online conversations suggest she was using controversial injections for darker skin

This is a synthetic hormone which encourages the production of  melanin, the pigment which turns the skin brown when exposed to sunlight.

Sales of the product are banned in the UK but it is available online across Europe and America. Health watchdogs have warned the side effects can be ‘extremely serious’ and studies have linked the injections to heart problems, high blood pressure and immune system damage.

Miss Vickers had gone for her regular sunbed session at the Tantastic salon near her home in Bolton, Greater Manchester, on Monday morning.

 

After she failed to come out of the cubicle, the manager broke the door down to find her lying lifeless on the floor. She called 999 and tried to revive Miss Vickers, who was taken to hospital but declared dead soon after.

A post-mortem examination has been carried out but the cause of death has not been established.

It is not known if Miss Vickers, described by friends as a ‘gorgeous, sweet girl’, injected the tanning product on the day of her death but she told friends she used it several weeks earlier.

Scene: The TanTastic salon in Bolton where Miss Vickers collapsed on Monday morning while topping up her tan. The shop is not linked to any illegal injections

Scene: The TanTastic salon in Bolton where Miss Vickers collapsed on Monday morning while topping up her tan. The shop is not linked to any illegal injections

Floral tributes outside the tanning shop left by devastated family

Floral tributes outside the tanning shop left by devastated family. One read: 'To our darling daughter Jenna. You are going to be so sadly missed. Good night God bless my sweet. Love mum and Russ'

Tribute: Miss Vickers is understood to have ordered the tanning injections because she wanted to have a darker more tanned appearance

Tribute: Miss Vickers is understood to have ordered the tanning injections because she wanted to have a darker more tanned appearance

Last night Miss Vickers’ fiance, Bryan Watson, 26, and mother Shirley Mather were too upset to comment.

'THE BARBIE DRUG': WHAT ARE MELANOTAN INJECTIONS?

Melanotan injections have been nicknamed the 'barbie drug' for their cosmetic appeal among beauty-conscious women. They come in two forms - melanotan I and melanotan II.

They both work by increasing the levels of melanin, a dark pigment that provides protection against the sun. Having more levels of melanin gives a darker more tanned appearance when exposed to sun, either natural or artificial.

Both manmade drugs have undergone some limited clinical trials with some positive results for protecting against UV damage.

There are large numbers of websites selling the products and they have become a craze among tan obsessives, bodybuilders and even some men who take them for their sexual side-effetcs.

However, health experts have made repeated warnings that products on the market are unlicensed and can have severe side-effects, ranging from nausea to headaches and other 'potentially dangerous' unknown outcomes.

The unlicensed drug is self injected, which means that there are serious needle safety issues to consider too.

In a message posted on Facebook, Mrs Mather said: ‘Just cannot believe you have gone, you was the best daughter, best friend. We had a great mother n daughter relationship any one would wish for, you are goin to be so very sadly missed.

‘I cannot put into words how heartbroken I am. Sleep tight the angels are lookin after you now. See you again one day and we will have a catch up, love you from the bottom of my heart bye for now my love xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx.’

Yesterday floral tributes were left outside the tanning salon and friends left messages on a Facebook site set up in her memory.

Lisa Rourke, manager of Tantastic, said: ‘What’s happened is really upsetting. Jenna used to come in here quite often to use the sun beds.

‘I knew she was using tanning injections – someone mentioned it – but she certainly didn’t get them from here. We don’t sell them and I don’t know anyone else who uses them. It’s dangerous, because no one knows the side effects.’

An inquest was opened and adjourned into Miss Vickers’ death yesterday.

The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency said melanotan is unlicensed and therefore illegal for sale in the UK.

A spokesman said they had the power to take down websites and fine anyone caught selling it. They added: ‘The MHRA would warn people not to use this product.

‘It is unlicensed in the UK and the side effects could be extremely serious.’

Miss Vickers and and fiance Brian Watson pose together in a picture she posted online recently. She was engaged and soon to be married to him

Miss Vickers and and fiance Brian Watson pose together in a picture she posted online recently. She was engaged and soon to be married to him

Happy: Miss Vickers and Mr Wilson together before she died. The cause of death has not yet been established

Happy: Miss Vickers and Mr Watson together before she died. The cause of death has not yet been established

In 2009, researchers at Liverpool John Moores University published an editorial in the British Medical Journal suggesting that use of melanotan ‘could damage the immune and cardiovascular systems as well as triggering other problems’.

Bevis Man, of the British Skin Foundation, said it was ‘worrying’ that individuals routinely ignored warnings about tanning injections.

He added: ‘The fact that the MHRA have yet to grant a licence to this product ought to serve as a warning to potential users.

‘There are other ways to get a tan without using an unregulated product or going on a sun bed.’

 

The comments below have been moderated in advance.

How sad. When will people learn to stop putting chemicals all over their bodies??!

Click to rate     Rating   40

I don't understand the craze for tanned skin. It's a 21st century phenomenom. What happened to the English Rose complexion? Why people are not satisfied with what they were born with amazes me. If we were meant to be ginger skinned we'd be born like it.

Click to rate     Rating   57

Why don't people use self tanning creams? I am very pale naturally and don't want to look fake so I use a moisturiser with a gradual self tanning ingredient. You can build it up slowly so you don't end up looking streaky or orange and it's not going to kill you, for god's sake.

Click to rate     Rating   24

The pity is that girls will continue to kill themselves in the quest for 'beauty'. Am I alone, as a man, finding that silicon breast implants are a big turn off, as for trout pout lips and collagen, I just think that girls spoil their natural looks and replace it with hideous results. Girls, forget these destructive treatments, put on a smile, that's all you need.

Click to rate     Rating   83

Nobody knows what she died of yet so this is pure speculation, and to say she was obsessed with wanting a bronze look doesn't ring true in any of those photos.

Click to rate     Rating   29

White folks, stop damaging your skin and your insides with this tanning nonsense. Black/other folks: stop damaging your skin and insides with this bleaching nonsense. It's all VANITY and this woman literally died in vain.

Click to rate     Rating   43

A tragedy for this young person and their family - Be careful when buying products and medications on the Internet. You NEVER know what you are purchasing.

Click to rate     Rating   7

When i was at uni in Australia this company offered big bucks to trial the products. I'm glad so I didn't give into the temptation for a quick buck and trial this tanning product.

Click to rate     Rating   5

It seems a great shame that a young woman has died but there is no reason to believe it was because of her use of tanning agent until there has been an inquest, it also seems the tanning place are having the finger pointed at them when they are completely innocent of any wrong doing. I don't do tans personally but am in favour of freedom of choice. I feel for her family and fiancé.

Click to rate     Rating   14

I've heard of people going to the gym and having a heart attack, surely there are lots of reasons why this poor girl might have had heart problems?

Click to rate     Rating   25

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