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Study Finds Possible Link between Viagra and Risk of Melanoma

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A study published in The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) of Internal Medicine analyzed data from 25,848 men and found that Sildenafil citrate, the ingredient in Viagra, manufactured by Pfizer, increased the risk of developing melanoma.

The study found that the drug apparently lowers the PDE5A level which “increases the invasiveness of melanoma cells.” PDE5A helps regulate “smooth muscle relaxation in the cardiovascular system.”

What is Melanoma?

Melanoma is a serious type of skin cancer that “develops in pigment cells called melanocytes.” It can spread to other parts of the body unlike other types of skin cancers. Only a doctor can properly diagnose a spot on your skin as a melanoma, typically by removing a piece of skin and getting it tested. Doctors look for the “ABCDs” which are: Asymmetry, border irregularity, color changes, and a diameter larger than a pencil eraser. You need to get regular check-ups with your dermatologist who can determine whether or not any spots on your skin are cancerous or suspicious. You also have to be your own advocate and pay attention to any spots that grow or change rapidly.

You are at an increased risk of developing melanoma if you are Caucasian, have light-colored eyes, light hair, family history of the disease, and a history of a lot of sun exposure.

The American Cancer Society predicts that there will be 76,100 new cases of melanoma diagnosed in 2014 and 9,710 of those cases may be fatal.

Sildenafil Citrate Side Effects

Sildenafil citrate increases the blood flow to the penis to help with erections. The drug is used in other brands for high blood pressure in the lungs, also known as pulmonary hypertension.

There are several serious side effects associated with this drug, including:

• Blurred or sudden loss of vision
• Rash
• Lightheaded or dizziness
• Fainting
• Chest pain
• Burning, itching during urination
• Loss or decrease in hearing
• Painful erection or one that lasts longer than 4 hours
• Shortness of breath
• Ringing in your ears

You should contact a doctor if you experience any of these side effects. He or she will determine what action you should take next, including stopping the use of the drug.