Nav: Home

Erectile dysfunction medicines do not cause melanoma, analysis of large studies finds

May 19, 2017

Use of the erectile dysfunction drug Viagra does not cause the development of melanoma, a deadly form of skin cancer.

This is the main finding of new research led by investigators at NYU Langone Medical Center and its Perlmutter Cancer Center and published online May 19 in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

While the researchers found an overall 11 percent increase in the risk of developing melanoma among erection medication users, they found no evidence that erectile dysfunction medicines cause melanoma. Instead, the study authors attribute the risk to "detection bias," where the group of patients likely to take erection medicines also happens to be more health conscious, more likely to see a doctor, and so more likely to get diagnosed with melanoma than other men of similar age.

"Physicians should still screen for melanoma risk, but they do not need to add the use of Viagra and similar drugs to the list of screening criteria specifically," says urologist Stacy Loeb, MD, MSc, an assistant professor at NYU Langone. "In general, men should continue to be careful about the risk of any kind of skin cancer from excessive sun exposure and use sun protection."

In 2016, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration placed Viagra and other erectile dysfunction drugs collectively known as phosphodiesterase type 5 (PDE5) inhibitors on its watch list of medications with possible safety issues. The FDA action followed a 2014 report in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) that linked an increased risk of melanoma with Viagra use. Loeb's team, in 2015, published a detailed analysis in JAMA of the medical records of 20,000 men in Sweden that found no evidence that Viagra or similar medicines cause melanoma.

In response to the FDA's action, Loeb and her colleagues analyzed data from five large-scale studies of erectile medication users and melanoma published between 2014 and 2016, which included a total of 866,049 men, of whom 41,874 were diagnosed with melanoma.

The researchers found an overall increase in melanoma risk among men who used PDE5 inhibitors, but they hypothesized that if a cause and effect exists, higher use of erection medications would be associated with higher risk of developing the disease. Loeb and her colleagues found the opposite: there was an increase in risk among men who had a small amount of exposure to these medications, and men who took larger amounts of erectile dysfunction medications had no significant increase in melanoma risk.

The researchers also reasoned that if erectile dysfunction medications cause melanoma, they would expect to find more aggressive disease among people who take the medications, but that was not the case. They did find an increased risk of early stage melanoma among erection medicine users, but those who took such medications were at a lower risk for aggressive melanoma than non-users.

"Overall, Viagra and other PDE5 inhibitors are safe medications as long as men are not taking nitrates, which carry a risk of reducing blood pressure," Loeb said. "Physicians and patients should not be concerned about taking these medications on account of worry about melanoma."
-end-
Loeb's co-authors are Eugenio Ventimiglia, MD, and Andrea Salonia, MD, at Università Vita-Salute San Raffaele, Milan, Italy; Yasin Folkvaljon, MD, at Uppsala University Hospital in Uppsala, Sweden; and P?r Stattin MD, PhD, at Uppsala University Hospital and Umea University in Umea, Sweden.

The research was supported by grants from The Swedish Cancer Society, the Louis Feil Charitable Lead Trust, and the Laura and Isaac Perlmutter Cancer Center at NYU Langone Medical Center.

Media Inquiries:

David March
212-404-3528
david.march@nyumc.org

NYU Langone Medical Center / New York University School of Medicine

Related Melanoma Articles:

Immunity against melanoma is only skin deep
Researchers at Dartmouth's Norris Cotton Cancer Center find that unique immune cells, called resident memory T cells, do an outstanding job of preventing melanoma in patients who develop the autoimmune disease, vitiligo.
Researchers document how melanoma tumors form
University of Iowa researchers have documented in continuous, real time how melanoma cells form tumors.
New driver, target in advanced mucosal melanoma
A University of Colorado Cancer Center study published March 15, 2017, in the journal Melanoma Research uses the unique resource of over 600 melanoma samples collected at the university to demonstrate, for the first time, novel mutations involved in mucosal melanoma, paving the way for therapies to treat this overlooked subtype.
NIH study reveals how melanoma spreads
Newly identified genes and genetic pathways in primary melanoma -- a type of skin cancer -- could give researchers new targets for developing new personalized treatments for melanoma, and potentially other cancers.
Melanoma research breakthrough gives hope to treatment
A QUT-driven project has identified the way in which melanoma cells spread, opening up new pathways to treatment via drugs to 'turn off' the invasive gene.
Study examines melanoma incidence, death
A new research letter published online by JAMA Dermatology updates information on trends in melanoma incidence and death in the United States since 2009.
Research providing promising new treatments for melanoma
In a paper published online Nov. 30, 2016, in Melanoma Management, Adam Riker, M.D., Professor of Surgery and Chief of Surgical Oncology at LSU Health New Orleans School of Medicine, reviews approaches to manage melanoma, including one tested at LSU Health New Orleans that provoked a complete response in a patient with a long history of the disease.
A protein that defines the melanoma blueprint
The latest study of the Melanoma Group at the Spanish National Cancer Research Centre describes the roles of CPEB4; a protein that is crucial for melanoma cell survival.
Nanotechnology supports treatment of malignant melanoma
Changes in the genetic make-up of tissue samples can be detected quickly and easily using a new method based on nanotechnology.
Detecting melanoma early, without a biopsy
Colorado State University Professor Jesse Wilson has received a one-year, $30,000 grant from the Colorado Clinical and Translational Sciences Institute to develop a new microscope that can distinguish between benign and malignant pigmented skin lesions, without the need for biopsy.

Related Melanoma Reading:

Best Science Podcasts 2019

We have hand picked the best science podcasts for 2019. Sit back and enjoy new science podcasts updated daily from your favorite science news services and scientists.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Setbacks
Failure can feel lonely and final. But can we learn from failure, even reframe it, to feel more like a temporary setback? This hour, TED speakers on changing a crushing defeat into a stepping stone. Guests include entrepreneur Leticia Gasca, psychology professor Alison Ledgerwood, astronomer Phil Plait, former professional athlete Charly Haversat, and UPS training manager Jon Bowers.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#524 The Human Network
What does a network of humans look like and how does it work? How does information spread? How do decisions and opinions spread? What gets distorted as it moves through the network and why? This week we dig into the ins and outs of human networks with Matthew Jackson, Professor of Economics at Stanford University and author of the book "The Human Network: How Your Social Position Determines Your Power, Beliefs, and Behaviours".