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Common Blood Pressure Drug Tied To Increased Risk Of Skin Cancer

Written and reviewed by
Dr. Jagatjit Singh Kohli 89% (260 ratings)
MBBS, DHMS-Harvard, Masters in Clinical Dermatology
Dermatologist, Chandigarh  •  13 years experience
Common Blood Pressure Drug Tied To Increased Risk Of Skin Cancer

(Reuters Health) - People who take a certain diuretic prescribed to control fluid retention and treat high blood pressure may be more likely to get skin cancer than other individuals, a Danish study suggests.

  • While the drug, hydrochlorothiazide, has long been linked to an increased risk of sunburns, the current study offers fresh evidence that this commonly prescribed medication may also make people more likely to develop basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma.
  • For the study, researchers examined national prescription registry data on hydrochlorothiazide use from 1995 to 2012 as well as cancer registry records on skin malignancies diagnosed from 2004 to 2012.
  • Overall, people who took hydrochlorothiazide daily for at least six years were 29% more likely to develop basal cell carcinoma and almost four times more likely to get squamous cell carcinoma than individuals who didn’t take this medication, the study found.
  • “We already knew that hydrochlorothiazide makes the skin more vulnerable to damage from UV light of sun or sunbeds,” said senior study author Anton Pottegard of the University of Southern Denmark.
  • “However, we did not know that hydrochlorothiazide use also appears to translate into an increased risk of non-melanoma skin cancer,” Pottegard said by email.
  • The study included more than 71,000 people with basal cell carcinoma, 8,600 patients with squamous cell carcinoma, and a control group of more than 313,000 people in the Danish population who didn’t have these malignancies but were otherwise similar to the cancer patients.
  • About 2.7% of patients with basal cell carcinoma and 2.1% of the control group were high users of hydrochlorothiazide, with a lifetime cumulative dose of at least 50,000 mg, or roughly six years of daily use.
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