Erectile dysfunction drugs may treat some cancers, increase risk for others

viagra Erectile dysfunction drugs may treat some cancers, increase risk for othersErectile dysfunction drugs, such as the widely prescribed Viagra, are being studied as possible treatments for throat and neck cancers despite research that has linked the erectile dysfunction drug to melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer.

Researchers and physicians at the University of Miami’s Miller School of Medicine’s Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center say that the erectile dysfunction drug Cialis could provide tumor-fighting benefits for throat and neck cancers based on data from a small, controlled study.

The study involved 35 patients at the hospital who were treated with moderate doses of Cialis. They found that the men who were treated with Cialis had a significant decrease in cells that fed their tumors. They also had an increase in cells that attack cancerous growths. Researchers say the drug altered patients’ immune systems, suggesting that the medication could inhibit the growth of cancer cells.

Cialis and Viagra are in a class of drugs known as phosphodieserase type 5, or PDE5, inhibitors. While they may show promise in fighting throat and neck cancers, they have been found to work along the same genetic pathway that allows skin cancer to be more aggressive.

A recent study involving more than 30,000 men over a 10-year period found that those that had taken Viagra were 84 percent more likely to develop melanoma than men who never used the drug. Even men who had used Viagra but discontinued use were at increased risk of developing melanoma.

Melanoma is the deadliest form of skin cancer. About 73,870 people will be diagnosed with melanoma in 205, and an estimated 9,940 will die from the disease, according to the American Cancer Society. The rate of melanoma has been rising for the past three decades, according to the nonprofit organization.

Source: Miami Herald