Study Shows that Viagra May Increase the Risk of Melanoma

A recent study published in JAMA Internal Medicine found a link between Viagra and melanoma. The study found that men who had recently used Viagra were 84% more likely to develop melanoma. There was no increase in skin cancers such as basal cell carcinoma or squamous cell carcinoma. Melanoma is a very dangerous form of a skin cancer that while sometimes treatable can be fatal. It is estimated that there are 76, 000 new melanoma cases each year. Approximately, 9,000 people die each year from melanoma.

The study involved an analysis of 25,000 men with an average age of 65 and 6 percent had taken Viagra to treat erectile dysfunction. For men that had used Viagra, the risk of developing melanoma was almost double.

Viagra is manufactured by Pfizer and is a phosphodiesterase (PDE) 5A inhibitor that affects the same genetic pathway that is associated with increased invasiveness in melanoma cells. The link between Viagra and melanoma is particularly terrifying given that 23 million men worldwide have utilized the drug since its approval in 1998. It has long been a blockbuster drug for Pfizer.

This revelation has caused an increased concern among patients and physicians regarding the association between certain pharmaceutical drugs and an increased cancer risk. In 2011, there were extensive reports regarding Actos, a drug used to control type 2 diabetes and bladder cancer. These reports resulted in the withdrawal of Actos from the French market.

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