A peer-reviewed study recently published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal (CMAJ) found that some common high blood medications may increase the risk of developing skin cancer in people 65 years old and above.
The study, entitled "Association between antihypertensive medications and risk of skin cancer in people older than 65 years: a population-based study," suggests that prolonged intake of antihypertensive pills, like hydrochlorothiazide, is linked to two major types of skin cancers.
On the other hand, Global News reported high blood pills such as angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors, angiotensin II receptor blockers, calcium channel blockers, and beta-blockers did not increase the risk of having skin cancer.
The study involved over 300,000 participants in Ontario who were prescribed antihypertensive medication between 1998 and 2017.
High Blood Pressure Medication Linked to Skin Cancer
According to the Food and Drugs Administration, hydrochlorothiazide a high blood pressure medication associated with increased sensitivity to light or photosensitivity. That means the skin will easily get sunburned.
Study co-author and dermatologist Dr. Aaron Drucker from the Women's College Hospital said that the premise suggests that making the skin sensitive to ultraviolet radiation from the sun or tanning bed it increases the risk of developing skin cancer.
Drucker suggested that high blood patients who are predisposed to develop skin cancer should consult their doctors about their medications' potential side effects and ask for alternative treatments.
A 2019 safety review by Health Canada showed that prolonged use of hydrochlorothiazide is linked to a risk of non-melanoma skin cancer at least four times than those who do not use the medication.
Experts advised limiting exposure to sunlight and avoid using tanning equipment and always use skin lotion with at least SPF 30 protection. Also, they advised periodic monitoring on skin cancer for patients taking hydrochlorothiazide.
How to Reduce Skin Cancer Risk Even When Taking Medications
For people who are taking the thiazide diuretics, dermatologists from the American Academy of Dermatology Association recommends the following to reduce the risk of developing skin cancer:
- Continue taking high blood pressure medication until you get to talk to your physician.
- Explain to your doctor why you are concerned about using the high blood pressure medication. Tell your doctor of any family history of cancer, or if you spend a lot of time outdoors, and if you take other medications.
- Understand that only one type of high blood medication is linked to skin cancer due to its side effects of making the skin more sensitive to ultraviolet radiation.
- Although the data from the Canadian study supports previous studies, further research is needed to further understand the link between high blood pressure medication and skin cancer.
- Protect your skin from the sun by not using a tanning bed or sun lamp. Also, examine your skin as often as the dermatologist recommend.
- Lastly, keep your dermatology appointments and only go to a board-certified dermatologist or skin cancer specialist.
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