Viagra May Increase Melanoma Risk

by Searcy Denney Scarola Barnhart & Shipley
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It’s known as the little blue pill.

According to a new study, the erectile dysfunction drug Viagra may have a side effect no one predicted – a link to an increased risk of melanoma.

Viagra may cause melanoma to metastasize more quickly.

Viagra, also known as sildenafil citrate may allow the increase of invasive melanoma cells. Not only is there a link but the researchers say Viagra may increase the risk of melanoma up to 84 percent.

Published in the June issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) Internal Medicine, researchers looked at the health of 25,848 men enrolled in the Health Professionals’ Follow-up Study at the Harvard School of Public Health.  None of the men had cancer during the initiation of the study.

The men were questioned about their use of Viagra as well as sun exposure and genetic skin cancer risk. The men answered self-reported questionnaires every two years over a ten-year period.

The findings reveal there were 142 cases of melanoma, 580 incidents of squamous cell carcinoma and 3,030 cases of basal cell carcinoma. An association between erectile function and melanoma was not noted. The link to melanoma was twice the risk, but there did not appear to be a correlation between Viagra use and the other types of skin cancer.

Apparently Viagra signals cell-to-cell pathways allowing melanoma cells to spread or metastasize to other parts of the body. The breakdown was like this – among non users 128 developed melanoma but among 1,618 Viagra users, 14 had melanoma or 8.6 of every 1,000 men.

Researchers call for more study to investigate the association.

Quick to respond, Harvard Health Publications asks if men should worry about this association? Remember this is a correlation not causation, says the Harvard publication and even if Viagra promotes skin cancer the increased risk is small.

Viagra was the only erectile dysfunction drug on the market when the Harvard study started in 2000. Since then three others have entered the market, Cialis, Levitra and Stendra.

It is advised than anyone, taking Viagra or not, be protected against too much sun exposure and have skin checks regularly, especially as you age.

Melanoma affects about 76,000 American every year and of those, 10,000 cases will prove fatal.

 

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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