Viagra Linked to Deadly Skin Cancer

In June 2014, a team of researchers discovered that men who had ever taken Viagra were at an increased risk of developing melanoma, compared to those who never took the drug. There is currently no warning on Viagra’s labels suggesting this risk. Our team of Viagra lawyers is currently investigating cases of skin cancer development from this drug.

Viagra (sildenafil) is taken by millions of men for erectile enhancement. A group of researchers examined data collected from men who filled out a questionnaire – the Health Professionals’ Follow-up Study – every two years. This questionnaire was developed at Harvard in 1986, and questions about the use of Viagra were included in 2000.

Of the 25,000 men who filled out the questionnaire, about 1,600 reported having ever used Viagra. About 8.6 of every 1,000 men who had ever taken Viagra developed melanoma over the next decade. About 4.3 of every 1,000 men who did not use the little blue pill developed melanoma. Â That is an 84% increase in risk.

It is important to note that this study focused only on Viagra, not other erectile enhancing drugs like Cialis, Levitra, and Stendra. Viagra use was associated only with melanoma, not with other common skin cancers such as basal cell or squamous cell carcinomas.

What Does Viagra Have to Do with Skin Cancer?

The researchers examined how Viagra affects the body’s cell-to-cell signaling pathways. Viagra is known medically as a PDE-5A inhibitor, because it increases blood flow to sexual organs by blocking the enzyme PDE-5A. Melanoma usually begins in the cells that give skin its color, called melanocytes. Melanocytes are responsible for regulating melanin, and blocking PDE-5A causes melanocytes to increase production of melanin.

Normally, melanocyte regulates melanin and other skin cells in an orderly, controlled and timely manner. If an over-production of melanin occurs, cells may grow out of control, eventually forming masses of cancerous cells, or melanoma tumors.

In other words, Viagra mimics important parts of the process that causes melanoma cells to grow and spread to other parts of the body. Tens of thousands of melanomas are diagnosed every year, and it is one of the fastest-growing cancers in the world. Melanoma is most common in men over 50-years-old. Unfortunately, treating melanoma, particularly in its later stages, is difficult and prognosis is usually quite poor.

Most men who take Viagra are over 50-years-old as well, making the risk all the more worrisome. Once any type of cancer has spread, it is difficult to control and is more likely to end in death. Although men taking Viagra face a small risk of melanoma, it is a risk nonetheless. Patients should remember that Viagra does not cause skin cancer, but men who took Viagra were more likely to develop the cancer more often than those that did not, showing a connection.

As stated, the earlier cancer is detected the better the prognosis. Older men taking Viagra should keep an eye on suspicious moles and remain diligent about sun care. Anyone who has been diagnosed with melanoma and has ever taken Viagra should contact an attorney as soon as possible. The Viagra lawyers at Pintas & Mullins Law Firm are currently investigating these cases. We provide free consultations to potential clients nationwide.

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