By Lauren Pastrana

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MIAMI (CBSMiami) – We all know about the importance of sunscreen in preventing skin cancer.

But for some men, a study found the risk of getting melanoma can be doubled before they even step foot in the sun.

Turns out men who use the erectile dysfunction drug Viagra have almost twice the risk, according to a study published in the Journal of American Medical Association.

Twenty-five thousand male health professionals were followed for ten years as part of the research. During that time, researchers tracked which men who developed melanoma and whether they took Viagra.

The risk for melanoma was higher for those who were using the drug or had ever used the drug. Erectile dysfunction itself was not linked to increased risk.

That doesn’t mean Viagra causes melanoma. It’s simply a statistical association the researchers noticed when they crunched the numbers.

“It may be that people who take Viagra are more likely to be out in the sun or more active in some way,” said dermatologist Dr. Brian Horvath. “The problem with that idea, though, is that the other types of skin cancer risks were not increased. So if was just sun exposure, you’d expect all skin cancers would increase. In this situation, just the melanoma risk was increased.”

So there is still the possibility it is the medicine.

The reason researchers did the study is because the drug affects certain cell signals, similar to signals that allow melanoma cells to spread.

“Viagra blocks an enzyme called phosphodiesterase and most melanomas have a mutation that also blocks that enzyme,” Horvath explained.

At the time the study was started, Viagra was the only FDA approved medicine for ED.

Since then others, such as Cialis, Levitra, and Stendra have come on the scene; they also block the same enzyme. We don’t know, but it’s possible similar patterns could be seen with these.

“The evidence is not firm,” Horvath said. “If you’re thinking about going on Viagra, probably having a baseline skin check would be very reasonable. If you have had a melanoma, I would be cautious about taking Viagra in the future.”

However, another study also published in the Journal of American Medical Association found the source of the uptick in malignant melanoma is actually socioeconomic and lifestyle based. So, one might find men with higher incomes who can likely afford vacations in the sun and expensive ED medications have a higher chance of developing skin cancer.

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