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In an effort to explore a possible connection between PDE5 inhibitors – a class of drugs that includes Viagra – and melanoma, a team of researchers, led by Qing Li, Ph.D., of the Harvard Medical School-Brigham and Women’s Hospital, analyzed data collected by the Health Professionals Follow-Up Study, which began in 1986 and includes data on over 51,000 male health professionals who were between the ages of 40 and 75 when the study began.

Beginning in 2000, the bi-annual surveys taken by study participants included questions about erectile dysfunction and the only drug on the market at that time to treat the condition: Viagra. Questions about risk factors for melanoma were also included in these surveys, collecting information about prior history, moles, hair color and history of sunburn and sun exposure. The final report, published in the June, 2014 edition of JAMA Internal Medicine, is based in survey responses from 25,848 men with an average age of 64 years.

Of those 25,848 men, 6.3 percent reported use of Viagra and 5.8 acknowledged recent use of the drug. During the study period, 142 malignant melanomas were diagnosed. Recent use of Viagra, after controlling for confounding factors, was associated with an 84 percent increase in melanoma risk, nearly double the risk of study participants who reported no use of the drug. No link was found to less lethal forms of skin cancer, such as basal and squamous cell skin cancers. (Source)