Men who use Viagra for a boost in the bedroom may be compromising their health, according to a new *observational study published at JAMA Internal Medicine online.

This study suggests that Viagra use may be linked to increased melanoma risk, involving the downregulation of the enzyme phosphodiesterase (PDE) 5A – and the drug sildenafil citrate, the erectile dysfunction drug commonly known as Viagra, is a PDE5A inhibitor. PDE5A inhibitors are also associated with the promotion of melanin synthesis, suggesting a possible link between Viagra use and melanoma risk. To strengthen these findings, researchers analysed data from over 25 000 men who took part in the Health Professionals’ Follow-up study, spanning over a period of 10 years (2000-2010).

They found 142 cases of melanoma, 580 cases of squamous cell carcinoma (a type of skin cancer) and 3030 basal cell carcinoma cases were diagnosed.

Recent use of Viagra at baseline was linked to an 84% – 124% increased risk of melanoma compared to no use, while any use was associated with a 92% – 177% higher risk. It was however not associated with an increase in either basal cell or squamous cell cancer.

Researchers warn results should be interpreted cautiously and “are insufficient to alter current clinical recommendations.”

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* cannot prove cause and effect, so further studies are needed to confirm findings.