Could Viagra Cause Skin Cancer? Erectile Dysfunction Drug Linked To Growth Of Aggressive Melanoma

Viagra is considered the go-to drug for men suffering from erectile dysfunction. However, some researchers made claims last year that men may want to reconsider the little blue pill, as it has been linked to the growth of melanoma, an aggressive form of skin cancer. So, should men be concerned about the skin cancer risks associated with the use of Viagra?

The Daily Mail reports that men taking Viagra were more likely to be diagnosed with deadly melanoma skin cancer than their non-Viagra popping peers. The study was touted as proof that Viagra could be dangerous for skin health and that more studies were need. However, urologist Stacy Loeb of New York University wasn’t so sure. Therefore, she performed a follow-up study, which was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, looking at other lifestyle factors outside of Viagra that could have caused the uptick in melanoma.

Viagra and skin cancer
Are these little blue pills causing skin cancer? (Image via Shutterstock)

What Loeb found was the men taking Viagra were also more likely to holiday in sunny climates. She noted that by looking at the medical records of 20,235 men in Sweden, she discovered that 4,065 were diagnosed with malignant melanoma between 2006 and 2012, and 435 of them had taken Viagra, Levitra, or Cialis. It was determined that like the previous study, those taking the erectile dysfunction drugs were 21 percent more likely of developing malignant melanoma. Initially, Loeb tells Fortune that the increase in risk was startling. However, upon further research into the men taking ED drugs, she found that it may have been their lifestyle choices, not the drug, that caused the increase in aggressive skin cancers.

“Loeb points out that men who get melanoma tend to have higher disposable incomes and education levels. In other words, they are the people who are most likely to be able to afford expensive vacations at beachside resorts and other places where the chance of sun exposure is high. These are the same characteristics of men who can afford ED drugs.”

Therefore, much like the first study, it was not fully determined if Viagra use or lifestyle choices contributed to the cases of melanoma in the patients. However, new research by the University of Tübingen in Germany suggests that Viagra does play a role in the growth rate of melanoma in men taking the drug. The researchers discovered that Sildenafil, which is marketed as Viagra, can cause melanoma tumors to grow more rapidly.

In fact, the new researchers state that Viagra use “encourages” the growth of the melanoma once present. Professor Robert Feil says the Viagra “signals a pathway of growth” for melanoma in the patent.

“We have discovered that the cells of malignant melanoma also use the cGMP signaling pathway for their growth. Taking sildenafil basically disables this brake.”

In other words, the scientist says that once a patient taking Viagra gets melanoma, the drug signals for the cells to grow, causing the cancer to spread more rapidly. Therefore, it seems that while lifestyle choices play in the role of getting melanoma, it is Viagra that can accelerate the rate of growth in men taking the drug. So, the idea that men who take Viagra are at higher risk of getting melanoma because of lifestyle choices is accurate, the new study suggests that Viagra does play a part in the spread and growth of the melanoma once contracted.

What do you think about the new study linking rapid melanoma growth with Viagra? Do you think the increased risk of rapidly growing melanoma will deter men from taking the erectile dysfunction drug?

[Image via Shutterstock]