Erectile Dysfunction Drugs Don’t Cause Melanoma

A recent study has shut down claims that drugs used to treat erectile dysfunction (ED) such as Viagra cause melanoma. Melanoma is the most life threatening form of skin cancer.

The study published on May 19, 2017 by the Journal of the National Cancer Institute shows that phosphodiesterase type 5 (PDE5) inhibitors ED drugs are in no way a risk of causing melanoma in men.

PDE5 inhibitors were put on the FDA’s watch list in 2016 as a medication that can possibly cause safety issues. This came after some studies claimed that they increase the risk of users suffering from melanoma.

Researchers Respond to FDA’s Action

Dr. Stacy Loeb, an urologist sought to find out the exact connection of ED medications and melanoma. Together with her team, the doctor who is also an assistant professor at NYU Langone Medical Center, scrutinized data from five major existing studies.

These chosen studies involved a combined number of 866,049 men and had been published between 2014 and 2016. 41,874 of these men had developed melanoma during the studies.

The researchers did find an 11 percent increased risk of melanoma in men taking PDE5 inhibitors, but there was no evidence for a causal link between the cancer and the drugs.

The 11% risk of melanoma was associated with stage zero melanoma only. In this stage, the cancer cells are confined to the upper layer of skin only and have not spread deeper.

According to earlier claims, the more a man took ED drugs the higher their chances of getting skin cancer. However, according to Loeb’s study only those who took smaller amounts of ED drugs actually had a higher risk of melanoma.

They observed that men who had taken about 100 or more pills of PDE5 inhibitors during the study period did not exhibit any notable increase in melanoma. There was therefore, no cause and effect relationship between PDE5 inhibitors and melanoma.

They also found that people who took the medications and suffered from melanoma did not have the more aggressive forms of the disease than people not taking the drugs.

Higher Detection Rates of Melanoma in ED Patients

The researchers found that the reason why there was an 11% more melanoma cases in ED patients was because such patients are more conscious about their health and will go for checkups more often than other people.

The more ED patients go for checkups the higher the chance of detecting any conditions they may be suffering from. This does not mean the conditions are caused by the medication they are taking. In fact, this is great because it allows for early detection and treatment which could save their lives.

Loeb said that PDE5 inhibitors are safe drugs and there is no reason to get concerned about causing melanoma. Doctors should not stop prescribing the drugs if they feel that they are the right course of treatment for some of their patients.

Doctors are still trying to find a lasting solution to ED and therefore, the PDE5 inhibitors debate is likely to continue. This is especially because of the popularity of these drugs and it thus, makes sense to be sure they are totally safe.

Reference: Journal of the National Cancer Institute