Study Finds Association Between Viagra Use and Melanoma

Tabletten zur PotenzsteigerungThe popular erectile dysfunction drug, Viagra (sildenafil citrate), has been associated with increased risks for the skin cancer, melanoma. Viagra is manufactured by Pfizer Inc. and is a phosphodiesterase (PDE) 5A inhibitor (PDE5A) that is typically used in the treatment of erectile dysfunction (ED). The drug received U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval in 1998.

The research revealed that men who used Viagra and other sildenafil drugs were 84 percent likelier to receive a melanoma diagnosis. Melanoma is the deadliest of the skin cancers and, according to a prior The Associated Press report, more than three-quarters of all deaths related to skin cancer involve melanoma and approximately one person dies from melanoma every hour in the United States.

A study, which appears in JAMA Internal Medicine was conducted to review the association between Viagra and other sildenafil drugs and potential increased risks for melanoma. The research also found that, even in men who had only taken Viagra once, an increase in melanoma risk was seen. In fact, in this group, a doubling of the risk for developing Viagra melanoma was seen. The researchers believe that Viagra might affect the genetic mechanism that enables a more aggressive progression of skin cancer.

Prior studies have revealed that PDE5A inhibitors, such as Viagra, may increase melanin synthesis. This, in turn, may increase melanoma development. Prior published research has also tied Viagra, sildenafil, and other PDE5A inhibitor use with the production of melanoma cells, especially in people who carry a BRAF gene mutation, wrote Medscape Multispecialty previously. Studies reveal that this mutation “down-regulates” PDE5A. Low PDE5A expression caused by BRAF activation or Viagra use increases melanoma cell aggression, which, then, raises possible Viagra skin cancer risks or melanoma.

Wen-Qing Li, PhD from the Department of Dermatology, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, and Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts, and colleagues conducted the prospective cohort study of participants in the Health Professionals’ Follow-up Study (HPFS) between 2000 and 2010 involving data on 25,848 men in the U.S. and China. Participants who reported cancers at the start of the study were excluded. The HPFS collects data involving male healthcare workers.

The average man’s age in this study was 65 and 6 percent of the men had taken Viagra. Participants were asked in a 2000 biennial survey if they had been, or were, treated for ED and also reported melanoma, squamous cell carcinoma (SCC), and basal cell carcinoma (BCC) diagnoses in the surveys since 1986. Follow-up was conducted during the 10-year study period. The review did not involve other PDE5A inhibitors as they had not received FDA approved when the cohort study began. Levitra and Staxyn (vardenafil) and Cialis and Acirca (tadalafil) are such drugs.

Interestingly, the researchers noted that, the observed ties seen between Viagra and melanoma may be partly attributed to later use of these later approved ED medications in recent Viagra users. Ryan Sullivan, M.D., of Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston told MedPage Today that, “Sildenafil may promote tumor growth, at least in tumor cells” and noted that, should a Viagra melanoma cause and effect be confirmed in future research, the effect on melanoma risk will likely apply to all drugs in the PDE5-inhibitor class, such as Cialis and Levitra.

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