Erectile Dysfunction Drugs May Increase Melanoma Risk

Two years ago, a study was published linking Viagra to a heightened risk of melanoma, the most fatal form of skin cancer. We wrote about the study previously, here, but our team of Viagra lawyers wants to update our readers on recent expert opinions and Viagra lawsuit news.

In the 2014 study, researchers had more than 200,000 men fill out a health and lifestyle questionnaire every two years, for one decade. The questionnaire included questions about the use of erectile dysfunction drugs at the time, in 2000, Viagra was the only erectile dysfunction drug available.

More than 10,000 men said they had used Viagra. Over the next ten years, 14 of those men developed melanoma, meaning that approximately 8.6 of every 1,000 men who took Viagra developed melanoma. Among those who said they had never taken the drug, only about 4.3 of every 1,000 respondents developed melanoma.

This calculates to an 84% increased risk of melanoma in men who took Viagra. Understandably, this paper made international headlines and elicited much worry among men of a certain age who had ever popped the little blue pill.

The Link Between Viagra and Skin Cancer

This is not the first study to find this correlation. Studies were published in 2008 and 2011 following several years of new research into the cellular pathways of melanoma. This research identified two pathways through which melanoma develop, and both turn out to be affected by PDE-5A expression.

Viagra and its twin, blood pressure drug Revatio, are known as PDE-5A inhibitors. These drugs block PDE-5A enzymes that would normally signal a decrease in blood flow to specific areas during sexual stimulation. When these enzymes are blocked, the body can create more chemicals that widen blood vessels and create an erection.

The 2011 study found that blocking PDE-5A created increases in melanoma cell invasion. The 2014 study authors acknowledged this, suggesting Viagra may have accelerated the development of melanoma in men who had taken it.

In other words, Viagra may increase the risk of melanoma invasiveness, rather than increasing the risk of it developing at all. This is important, because many experts have noted that there may be more to this study than meets the eye.

Lifestyle Factors

A doctor at NYU recently put together a team to study the true link between erectile drugs and melanoma. Dr. Loeb and her team suggest that the reason men taking Viagra report more incidence of melanoma is not because of the drug, but because of the lifestyle and socioeconomic status of these men.

The same type of man who can afford erectile dysfunction drugs is, generally, the same type of person who is likely to develop melanoma: they have high disposable incomes and education levels to take vacations at beachside resorts and other sun-soaked locations, and afford high-priced medications. Loeb asserts that behavior, rather than the drug itself, was the driving force behind the higher melanoma rates.

There clearly needs to be more research done on this to gain a clear answer. In the meantime, the only definitive cause of melanoma is exposure to UV radiation. Anyone with extensive past UV exposure should follow-up with a dermatologist frequently and educate themselves on self-screening. And everyone should be wearing sunscreen every day.

The Viagra lawyers at Pintas & Mullins Law Firm are currently accepting claims from men diagnosed with melanoma who have taken this drug. Contact us for a free case review to find out if you have a claim. We represent clients nationwide.

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