Erectile dysfunction drugs are commonly used in the United States. But a new study shows that they could be causing skin cancer.
The link is particularly worrisome because the drugs are apparently leading to a deadly form of melanoma.
“The disturbing link comes from a large study in JAMA Internal Medicine that followed nearly 26,000 men who had used Viagra at least once since the study began in 2000. It found that those men had about an 84 percent greater risk of developing melanoma than men who had not used the medication. Translated into a real life scenario, the results of this study show that as much as one extra melanoma case for every 1,000 men would occur per year. A significant link that makes this biologically plausible is that current cancer research suggests that a biochemical pathway that is also affected by Viagra promotes melanoma growth. Other erectile dysfunction drugs, such as Cialis and Levitra, work on the same biochemistry and may pose an even greater risk for melanoma because they last longer in the body,” according to Fox.
The number of skin cancer cases in American men over the age of fifty actually has been increasing over the past few years. This is the group that uses erectile dysfunction drugs the most.
Fox reports, “The study authors said that the preliminary findings may mean that doctors who are prescribing Viagra can take the opportunity to check their patients’ skin, and at a minimum, ask whether they have noticed any new or changing spots on their skin.”
Erectile dysfunction drugs are not always needed and Fox explains why and how they can be avoided, “It is important for patients to consider their risk factors for developing erectile dysfunction – like obesity, hypertension, diabetes, alcohol use and lack of sleep – before starting any erectile dysfunction medication regimen. Often, conditions that cause erectile dysfunction can be treated, and the use of medication is not needed.”