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Study Exposes Link Between Popular Blood Pressure Med and Increased Skin Cancer Risk


A strong connection has been found between a popular blood pressure medication and an increased risk of developing skin cancer, according to a new study published from the University of Southern Denmark and the Danish Cancer Society.

Hydrochlorothiazide (HCTZ) is one of the most frequently used medications given to patients suffering from high blood pressure, or hypertension. It is widely used in the U.S. with more than 10 million people using the drug every year, and in Western Europe. Danish researchers have now linked this anti-hypertensive medicine to a higher risk for skin cancer noting the harmful effects of everyday sunlight exposure leads to a greater risk for skin cancer in people taking HCTZ, as it is a photosensitizing medication.

Previous research by the University of Southern Denmark Faculty of Health Sciences has shown that this popular medication leads to a higher risk of lip cancer. In this study, the Danish researchers have demonstrated another link between the anti-hypertensive mediation and the possibility of skin cancer. In particular, the strong connection exists between drugs containing the medicine HCTZ and squamous cell carcinoma. The researchers concluded that 10 percent of all Danish cases of squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) may be caused by HCTZ.

How Hydrochlorothiazide Use Can Lead to Development of Skin Cancer

HCTZ makes the skin more vulnerable to damage by UV rays from the sun, according to the published research. The Danish study included 80,000 Danish cases of skin cancer, and the results pointed to a strong link between the use of this medicine and the risk of developing skin cancer; the risk of getting skin cancer is 7 times greater for patients using the hypertension medicine containing HCTZ, which is the most commonly used medication world-wide to treat high blood pressure.

While there are various kinds of skin cancer, squamous cell carcinoma is now associated with the blood pressure medicine. And if left untreated, there is a risk that skin cancer of the squamous cell can spread. The lead initiator of the study, Anton Pottegard, PhD, from the University of Southern Denmark, cautions patients to not stop their treatment until first talking to their doctor about their blood pressure medicine and discuss alternatives.

The Danish researchers partnered with the Florida State University Department of Dermatology, and their experience has seen a prevalence of treating skin care patients who are also taking HCTZ. It seems to be a combination of living in sunny Florida while taking this blood pressure medicine makes patients more sensitive to the sun and at high risk for skin cancer.

Choosing a Natural Alternative

Interested in an effective natural alternative for alleviating high blood pressure? The botanical extract, berberine, has been found to help lower blood pressure and improve blood flow. As you age, your skin loses its ability to produce necessary nutrients to protect it from the damaging effects of the sun’s UV rays, and adding berberine to your daily regimen can help in more ways than one; this plant compound has many beneficial medicinal purposes, such as helping to control blood sugar, cholesterol and even heart disease.

Berberine is a yellow-colored compound found in several species of plants, such as goldenthread and tree turmeric. It has anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial and immune-boosting effects. The benefits of berberine extend to newer research with wider benefits for a range of medical and cardiovascular conditions. To learn more about this remarkable herb and what it can do for your health, check out our article Berberine Benefits: Is It Really a Key Supplement for Those with Diabetes?


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