HEALTHY LIVING
04/08/2014 11:28 am ET Updated Apr 08, 2014

Viagra May Increase Risk For Melanoma, Study Says

ASSOCIATED PRESS

Viagra, the trusted cure for erectile dysfunction, may be linked to an increased risk for one of the deadliest forms of skin cancer, according to the findings of a new preliminary study.

Researchers from a score of top medical universities analyzed data from a 2000 Health Professionals’ Follow-up Study on nearly 26,000 men, 6 percent of whom had taken sildenafil, more commonly known as Viagra. The group that had a history of Viagra use had roughly double the risk of developing melanoma than those who hadn’t ever taken the drug, while those who were currently taking the drug had an 84 percent higher risk of developing melanoma, said the preliminary study, released Monday in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine.

Researchers said it’s still too early to alter prescriptions of the blue pill, but they urged increased investigation into its link to melanoma.

“[P]eople who are on the medication and who have a high risk for developing melanoma may consider touching base with their primary care providers,” Dr. Abrar Qureshi, co-author of the study and professor and chair of the dermatology department in the Warren Alpert Medical School at Brown University, told NBC News.

Though melanoma accounts for less than 2 percent of skin cancer cases each year, it makes up the majority of skin cancer fatalities. According to the American Cancer Society’s most recent estimates, about 9,710 people are expected to die of melanoma this year; 6,470 of those are men.

The new study’s findings seem to fly in the face of a previously study that said Viagra could help defend against melanoma. In that 2011 study, conducted by Dr. Viktor Umansky and his team at the University Medical Center Mannheim, Viagra was shown to neutralize a melanoma tumor’s inflammatory immune response in a group of mice. However, as pointed out by Slate, there are many issues with medical trials on mice extending to human trial successes.

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