Pharmaceutical

Viagra linked to an increased risk of deadly melanoma skin cancer

viagra Viagra linked to an increased risk of deadly melanoma skin cancerMen who use or have ever used Viagra are more likely to develop the most deadly form of skin cancer than men who have never used the drug, according to a study published in JAMA Internal Medicine.

The erectile dysfunction (ED) drug Viagra, which contains the active ingredient sildenafil citrate, is in a class of drugs known as phosphodiesterase (PDE) 5A inhibitors. Other drugs in this class include the ED drugs Cialis (tadalafil) and Levitra (vardenafil). PDE5A inhibitors affect the same genetic pathway that allows skin cancer to be more aggressive. As a result, researchers set out to determine whether this could cause men who took the drug to develop melanoma.

The prospective cohort study involved about 31,600 men, each of whom were given questionnaires every two years for 10 years regarding their health and lifestyle. Nearly 30,000 participants said they had never used Viagra and, among them, 128 developed melanoma. Among the remaining 1,600 or so men who reported using the drug, 14 developed melanoma.

That works out to about 4.3 cases of melanoma per 1,000 men who did not use Viagra compared to 8.6 cases of the deadly skin cancer for every 1,000 men who did take the drug. The increased risk remained for men who had taken the drug but discontinued use, researchers found.

Researchers say that the data shows Viagra may be associated with an increased risk of melanoma, but more studies are needed to result in altering clinical recommendations.

Melanoma is curable if found early, but if left undetected the disease can spread to other parts of the body making it difficult to treat. Melanoma is more aggressive than other forms of skin cancer, and accounts for about 80 percent of all skin cancer-related deaths.

Source: PubMed