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Side Effects of Viagra Linked to Increased Melanoma Risk: Study

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The popular erectile dysfunction drug Viagra may greatly increase men’s risk of developing melanoma, which is the deadliest form of skin cancer, according to the findings of a new study.  

Researchers from Harvard Medical School in Boston found that men taking Viagra were up to 84% more likely to be diagnosed with the skin cancer when compared to men who do not use the drug, due to side effects of Viagra on the body’s ability to fight off skin cancer.

The findings were published in the medical journal JAMA Internal Medicine on April 7, leading researchers to theorize that the active ingredient in Viagra, sildenafil citrate, lowers levels of a cancer-fighting protein called PDE5A. This increases the invasiveness of melanoma cells, the researchers warn.

The findings were gathered through a prospective cohort study of data gathered from 25,848 men with an average age of 65. Researchers looked at the incidence of a number of forms of skin cancer, including melanoma, squamous cell carcinoma, and basal cell carcinoma. About six percent of the men had used Viagra.

Researchers found that while the risk of other cancers did not increase, the risk of melanoma from Viagra appeared to shoot up 84%. The study was able to exclude erectile dysfunction as having a link to increased melanoma risk in the study as well.

The study does not show a causal link between Viagra and melanoma, and researchers indicate that there needs to be more research before men should be warned away from the drug.

“Sildenfail use may be associated with an increased risk of developing melanoma,” the researchers concluded. “Although this study is insufficient to alter clinical recommendations, we support a need for continued investigation of this association.”

Viagra (sildenafil citrate) was approved in 1998 and is manufactured by Pfizer. Some of the other side effects of Viagra include reports of sudden hearing loss or a vision problems that could develop within 48 hours of taking the drug.

The American Cancer Society says that melanoma is diagnosed in about 69,000 Americans each year and causes about 8,650 deaths annually.

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