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Another Study Links Viagra to Increased Risk of Melanoma

Jul 21, 2015

The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) has published study looking at the link between phosphodiesterase type 5 (PDE5) inhibitors, which include erectile dysfunction drugs such as Viagra, and melanoma. The Swedish study was conducted after previous research found an increased risk of melanoma in Viagra users. The authors noted that "The target for the oral erectile dysfunction drugs, phosphodiesterase type 5 (PDE5) inhibitors, is part of a pathway implicated in the development of malignant melanoma."

Researchers used the Swedish Prescribed Drug Register, the Swedish Melanoma Register and other national databases to gather data on the relationship between PDE5 inhibitors and the risk of melanoma. A total of 4,065 cases of melanoma were diagnosed between 2006 through 2012; 5 randomly selected control cases were selected for each case of melanoma with a matching birth year.

Overall, the authors found "a modest but statistically significant increased risk of malignant melanoma." Out of all the melanoma cases, 11 percent (435 men) had filled prescriptions for PDE5 inhibitors such as Viagra, Cialis or Levitra. In the control group of 20,325 men, 8 percent (1,713 men) filled such prescriptions.

Erectile dysfunction medication use was linked to a higher risk of melanoma, a multivariable analysis showed. Findings showed that the most prevalent risk was among men who filled a single prescription. The risk for men who filled multiple prescriptions was not significant. There was a statistically significant link between PDE5 inhibitors and melanoma stage 0 and stage 1, but not stages II through IV. There was also an elevated risk of basal cell carcinoma associated with use of ED drugs.

Last June, JAMA published a study showing that Viagra was linked to an 84 percent increased risk of melanoma. The 10-year study included 25,000 men. These findings do not prove a causal relationship. The correlational research indicates an association. Dermatologist Dr. Brian Horvath commented that "It may be that people who take Viagra are more likely to be out in the sun or more active in some way," according to CBS Miami. "The problem with that idea, though, is that the other types of skin cancer risks were not increased. So if was just sun exposure, you'd expect all skin cancers would increase. In this situation, just the melanoma risk was increased."


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