JAMA Study Finds Connection Between Viagra Use and Melanoma Risk By Tod Aronovitz | 09/03/14 | 0 Comment

Men who are prescribed a popular erectile dysfunction drug may be at an increased risk for melanoma, according to a research study published in the August edition of JAMA Internal Medicine. The study analyzed the correlation between the use of sildenafil, an ingredient found in Viagra, and the risk of incident melanoma among almost 26,000 men in the United States over a 10-year period.

A recent Top Class Actions article reported that the Harvard Medical School researchers found that men who take Viagra may face up to an 84 percent increased risk of developing melanoma, a certain type of skin cancer that can easily spread to other parts of the body.

Research revealed that over the decade, more than 3,500 cases of Viagra skin cancer were diagnosed, with 142 cases reported as melanoma. More than 3,000 of the cases were basal cell carcinoma, another more common form of skin cancer.

The researchers who studied Viagra use and melanoma think the active ingredient in Viagra, sildenafil citrate, may decrease the ability of PDE5A—a protein in the body—to fight cancer. As a result, the possibility that cancer cells may invade skin cells and other organs increases. No additional risk was discovered with other forms of skin cancer.

Viagra has been on the market since manufacturer Pfizer won its approval by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 1998 to treat erectile dysfunction. In 2012, Viagra brought in $2 billion in sales for the company.

However, Pfizer may now be under increased scrutiny as a result of the study’s findings. Because the drug’s warning label does not mention the risk for skin cancer, questions will be raised about its safety, and lawsuits alleging negligence, false advertising, concealing information, and misrepresenting a product could become more prevalent, the article explained.

The American Cancer Society says that melanoma is diagnosed in approximately 69,000 Americans each year, and causes 8,650 deaths annually. Red flags include unusual moles or patches of skin that appear suddenly. If caught early, the cancer is curable, but if left untreated, melanoma can spread beyond the skin and into the body.

The study’s authors support a need for continued investigation of this issue. They say that while sildenafil use may be associated with an increased risk of developing melanoma, the study is insufficient to alter clinical recommendations.

Talk to your health care professional about any concerns you have about the connection between Viagra use and melanoma skin cancer risk.

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