Viagra May Put You at Risk of Melanoma

Viagra Risk of MelanomaMen who use the erectile dysfunction drug sildenafil, commercially known as Viagra, have a significantly higher chance of developing deadly skin cancer than men who don’t use the drug, according to a recent study.

The study, published in 2014 in JAMA Internal Medicine, found an 84-percent greater chance of developing melanoma over a 10-year period among men who take Viagra. The connection between the drug and melanoma warrants further investigation of the issue, experts note. In the meantime, men who use Viagra should exercise caution when spending time outdoors. Men who have developed melanoma should ensure that they fully understand the latest research and get the best possible treatment.

What Did the Study Find?

The study began in 2000, when almost 26,000 men joined the Health Professionals Follow-Up Study through the Harvard School of Public Health. At that time, researchers conducted interviews with the men about their sexual health, including their use of Viagra. They also questioned participants about time spent in the sun and any genetic risk for skin cancer, including a history of moles along with eye and hair color.

Researchers tracked the men for the next decade to record any occurrences of skin cancer, including squamous cell carcinoma, basal cell carcinoma and melanoma. In all, researchers noted 580 cases of squamous cell carcinoma, 3,030 cases of basal cell carcinoma and 142 cases of melanoma. The men who reported using Viagra had a risk factor nearly double for developing melanoma. The drug did not appear to be linked to the other two types of skin cancers that were monitored, and researchers didn’t find evidence that erectile dysfunction on its own increased the risk of developing melanoma.

Researchers say the study only shows a correlation between melanoma and Viagra and doesn’t prove that the drug causes the disease. To understand causality, more research is needed, they note.

Researchers did not suggest that Viagra is a dangerous drug or that men stop taking it for treatment of erectile problems, noted Dr. Abrar Qureshi, a study co-author. But he advised that men who take the medication and are at high risk for melanoma consult with their doctors before continuing the medication.

Does Viagra Increase Risk of Melanoma?

Viagra impacts the same genetic pathway that provides a means by which skin cancer can become more invasive, Qureshi said, adding that the men who took Viagra did not show a higher risk of the less-dangerous forms of skin cancer.

The researchers also noted that the risk of melanoma that correlates with taking Viagra is small, and many factors play a role in a man’s risk of developing melanoma. Age and total exposure to ultraviolet radiation are among the most predictive factors in development of the disease.

Should men who take Viagra be worried? Researchers say there is no definitive answer without further investigation, because the connection between melanoma and Viagra could be a simple coincidence. Replication of the study results is necessary before health professionals would begin warning men.

Protect Yourself from Melanoma

Melanoma is less common than other types of skin cancer but is more serious. It appears as a flat mole with an uneven shape; the mole can be brown, black or several colors. Melanoma typically appears as a new growth on the skin, but it also can form in an existing mark or mole. The disease can impact the skin exclusively or can spread to bones and organs.

To reduce the risk of melanoma, experts advise protecting skin against excessive sun exposure by using a broad-spectrum sunscreen liberally during outdoors time, staying in the shade, avoiding indoor tanning and wearing a hat, sunglasses and clothing that covers arms and legs. In addition, anyone at risk should see a health care professional for regular skin examinations to catch any signs of melanoma or other skin cancers early, when they can still respond to treatment.

Older men have a higher chance of developing melanoma and of dying from the disease. In 2014, experts estimated that 76,000 U.S. residents would develop melanoma, and 10,000 would die because of it.

Consult with an Experienced Dangerous Medicines Attorney

If you have suffered from health problems that you believe are the result of a dangerous medicine, you should consult with our qualified attorneys. You may be entitled to compensation, including the costs of your medical treatment, time lost from work, and pain and suffering. For a free personal consultation, contact Meinhart Smith & Manning PLLC at (877) 776-1219.

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