Studies Show Increased Melanoma Risk in Men Who Use Viagra

Increased Melanoma Risk in Men Who Use Viagra

Increased Melanoma Risk in Men Who Use Viagra


A study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association shows an increased risk of melanoma for men who use the erectile dysfunction drug Viagra.

Men who use Viagra have almost twice the melanoma risk, according to a study, CBSMiami reports. Researchers followed 25,000 thousand male health care professionals were followed for ten years as part of the research, tracking which men developed melanoma and whether they used Viagra (sildenafil).

The melanoma risk was higher for those who were using the drug or had ever used the drug. Erectile dysfunction itself was not linked to increased risk and the researchers say their findings do not mean that Viagra causes melanoma. This is simply a statistical association the researchers noticed when they did their analysis. “It may be that people who take Viagra are more likely to be out in the sun or more active in some way,” said dermatologist Dr. Brian Horvath. But, Dr. Horvath said, the risk of other skin cancers was not increased, which would be expected if sun exposure was involved. Just the melanoma risk was increased, Horvath said, which leaves open the possibility that the medication is the cause.

The researchers undertook the study because the drug affects certain cell signals, similar to signals that allow melanoma cells to spread. Horvath explained, “Viagra blocks an enzyme called phosphodiesterase and most melanomas have a mutation that also blocks that enzyme.” At the start of the study period, Viagra was the only FDA-approved erectile-dysfunction medication. Since then, Cialis (tadalafil), Levitra (vardenafil), and Stendra (avanafil) have come on the market and they work as Viagra does to block phosphodiesterase. It is possible similar patterns could be seen with these drugs, CBSMiami notes.

Horvath advises men who are thinking about using Viagra that it “would be very reasonable” for them to have a baseline skin check. If a man has had a melanoma, “I would be cautious about taking Viagra in the future,” Horvath says. Another study, which also appeared in the Journal of American Medical Association, examined 4,065 melanoma cases in a group of Swedish men. Th authors attributed the uptick in malignant melanoma to socioeconomic and lifestyle factors. Men with higher incomes who can likely afford vacations in the sun and expensive ED medications have a higher chance of developing skin cancer.

 

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