Archive for the ‘skin cancer’ Category

ED, Viagra and Melanoma-The Jury Is Still Out

June 27, 2015

Viagra remains one of the most popular drugs for treating erectile dysfunction or ED. The drug is quite safe and has been used by millions of men world wide. Recently there was a report of a relationship between Viagra and the potentially lethal skin condition, melanoma.

A potential link between erectile dysfunction drugs and melanoma may exist, but inconsistencies in the data make a cause-and-effect relationship questionable.
Men who had a history of using phosphodiesterase type 5 (PDE5) inhibitors (Viagra, Levitra, or Cialis) had a 20% greater risk of melanoma as compared with men who never used the drugs. However, the strongest association involved men who filled a single prescription for a PDE5 inhibitor. Total number of prescriptions filled did not significantly affect melanoma risk.
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Moreover, the PDE5 inhibitor-melanoma association pertained only to early-stage disease (stage 0-I), did not differ by type of PDE5 inhibitor, and was not limited to melanoma, as an increased risk of basal cell carcinoma was seen among users of PDE5 inhibitors. This was reported online in The Journal of the American Medical Association.

The findings are consistent with those of a similar study reported a year ago. However, the previous study was based on data that showed only whether a man had ever used a PDE5 inhibitor. Extracted from the Health Professionals Follow-up Study, the data were limited to the original PDE5 inhibitor, sildenafil (Viagra), and lacked details about use of the drug, such as the number of prescriptions filled.

The study was not able to prove cause and effect relationship. A longer follow-up and more detailed assessment of the dose and frequency of Viagra use at multiple times in the would be necessary for future studies.

In theory, a causal association between PDE5 inhibitor use and melanoma has biologic plausibility. Several studies have provided evidence of interaction between PDE5 and melanoma.

A Swedish study of the 435 men who used PDE5 inhibitors and developed melanoma, 275 had filled one or more prescriptions for sildenafil and 224 had filled at least one prescription for Levitra or Cialis.

Overall, men who used PDE5 inhibitors had a slight increase for melanoma versus nonusers. The risk of melanoma did not differ significantly across the three types of ED drugs.

Bottom Line: What’s my advice. Whether you use Viagra, Levitra, or Cialis, or not, I suggest you make use of plenty of sun screen. Nothing less than a SPF of 35. Also, if you are at risk for melanoma, i.e., are light completed, have frequent exposure to sun, then see a dermatologist at least once a year for a total body examination.

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Can Treatment For ED Cause Skin Cancer

June 21, 2014

A recent study has implicated Viagra as a cause of skin cancer. A study found that men who used the erection-enhancing drug sildenafil (Viagra) were 84% more likely to develop melanoma, a very significant skin cancer. That’s especially important for older men, who are at greater risk for developing melanoma and also at greater risk for dying from it. An estimated 76,000 Americans (more than half of them men) will be diagnosed with melanoma this year, and almost 10,000 will die from it.

Here are two truths about this work that you need to know. 1) This study does not show that Viagra causes skin cancer. Instead, it shows that in a large group of men, those who said they used Viagra ended up being diagnosed more often with melanoma than those who didn’t use this drug. The study shows a connection, but not a cause. 2). Even if Viagra does promote melanoma, the absolute increase is small.

The study grew out of laboratory research on how Viagra acts on cell-to-cell signaling pathways. This work demonstrated that the drug mimics key parts of a process that lets melanoma cells spread to other parts of the body. Skin cancer that spreads (metastasizes) is hard to control and can end in death.

Over the next decade, among the 29,929 men who said they had never used Viagra, 128 developed melanoma. Among the 1,618 Viagra users, 14 developed melanoma. In other words, 4.3 of every 1,000 who didn’t take Viagra developed melanoma compared to 8.6 of every 1,000 men who took Viagra.

After statistical adjustments, the increase from 4.3 to 8.6 is the 84% increase in risk that many news reports focused on. Researchers call that the relative risk (one group compared to another). The absolute increase, 4.3 cases per 1,000 men, represents an increase of 0.43%.

Whether a similar connection might exist between other erectile dysfunction drugs and melanoma isn’t known.
The raw numbers suggest that the risk for melanoma associated with Viagra is small. It’s even smaller than what was reported in the study because not all of the 14 cancers in the Viagra group can be attributed to the drug. Many factors affect a man’s risk of melanoma—the most important of which are age and cumulative exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation.
Should men who use Viagra worry about getting melanoma? Right now, no one can say. The relationship could be pure coincidence.
My advice to men: Protect your skin from too much sun and have routine skin checks to identify melanoma and other types of skin cancer early, while they are still treatable.

Bottom Line: In short, be afraid—but not of Viagra. Be concerned about getting too much sun and pay attention to weird-looking moles that could turn into metastatic cancer. Cover up when you go outside, and use a broad-spectrum sunscreen liberally when you do go out into the sun to work and play.

Preventive Healthcare For Women – What You Need To Know

January 21, 2013

Women have had an interaction with the healthcare profession from birth to old age. They have achieved good health as a result of frequent visits to their doctors and practiced good health habits. This blog is written for the purpose of providing women with suggestions for continuing the process of maintaining good health.

Why Screening Tests Are Important
Remember that old saying, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”? Getting checked early can help you stop diseases like cancer, diabetes, and osteoporosis in the very beginning, when they’re easier to treat. Screening tests can spot illnesses even before you have symptoms. Which screening tests you need depends on your age, family history, your own health history, and other risk factors.

Breast Cancer
The earlier you find breast cancer, the better your chance of a cure. Small breast-cancers are less likely to spread to lymph nodes and vital organs like the lungs and brain. If you’re in your 20s or 30s, your health care provider should perform a breast exam as part of your regular check-up every one to three years. You may need more frequent screenings if you have any extra risk factors.

Screening With Mammography
Mammograms are low-dose X-rays that can often find a lump before you ever feel it, though normal results don’t completely rule out cancer. While you’re in your 40s, you should have a mammogram every year. Then between ages 50 and 74, switch to every other year. Of course, your doctor may recommend more frequent screenings if you’re at higher risk.
Cervical Cancer
With regular Pap smears, cervical cancer (pictured) is easy to prevent. The cervix is a narrow passageway between the uterus (where a baby grows) and the vagina (the birth canal). Pap smears find abnormal cells on the cervix, which can be removed before they ever turn into cancer. The main cause of cervical cancer is the human papillomavirus (HPV), a type of STD.
Screening for Cervical Cancer
During a Pap smear, your doctor scrapes some cells off your cervix and sends them to a lab for analysis. A common recommendation is that you should get your first Pap smear by age 21, and every two years after that. If you’re 30 or older, you can get HPV tests, too, and wait a little longer between Pap smears. Both screenings are very effective in finding cervical cancer early enough to cure it.
Vaccines for Cervical Cancer
Two vaccines, Gardasil and Cervarix, can protect women under 26 from several strains of HPV. The vaccines don’t protect against all the cancer-causing strains of HPV, however. So routine Pap smears are still important. What’s more, not all cervical cancers start with HPV.
Osteoporosis and Fractured Bones
Osteoporosis is a state when a person’s bones are weak and fragile. After menopause, women start to lose more bone mass, but men get osteoporosis, too. The first symptom is often a painful break after even a minor fall, blow, or sudden twist. In Americans age 50 and over, the disease contributes to about half the breaks in women and 1 in 4 among men. Fortunately, you can prevent and treat osteoporosis.
Osteoporosis Screening Tests
A special type of X-ray called dual energy X-ray absorptiometry (DXA) can measure bone strength and find osteoporosis before breaks happen. It can also help predict the risk of future breaks. This screening is recommended for all women age 65 and above. If you have risk factors for osteoporosis, you may need to start sooner.
Skin Cancer
There are several kinds of skin cancer, and early treatment can be effective for them all. The most dangerous is melanoma (shown here), which affects the cells that produce a person’s skin coloring. Sometimes people have an inherited risk for this type of cancer, which may increase with overexposure to the sun. Basal cell and squamous cell are common non-melanoma skin cancers.
Screening for Skin Cancer
Watch for any changes in your skin markings, including moles and freckles. Pay attention to changes in their shape, color, and size. You should also get your skin checked by a dermatologist or other health professional during your regular physicals.
High Blood Pressure
As you get older, your risk of high blood pressure increases, especially if you are overweight or have certain bad health habits. High blood pressure can cause life-threatening heart attacks or strokes without any warning. So working with your doctor to control it can save your life. Lowering your blood pressure can also prevent long-term dangers like heart disease and kidney failure.
Screening for High Blood Pressure
Blood pressure readings include two numbers. The first (systolic) is the pressure of your blood when your heart beats. The second (diastolic) is the pressure between beats. Normal adult blood pressure is below 120/80. High blood pressure, also called hypertension, is 140/90 or above. In between is prehypertension, a sort of early warning stage. Ask your doctor how often to have your blood pressure checked.
Cholesterol Levels
High cholesterol can cause plaque to clog your arteries (seen here in orange). Plaque can build up for many years without symptoms, eventually causing a heart attack or stroke. High blood pressure, diabetes, and smoking can all cause plaque to build up, too. It’s a condition called hardening of the arteries or atherosclerosis. Lifestyle changes and medications can lower your risk.
Checking Your Cholesterol
To get your cholesterol checked, you’ll need to fast for 12 hours. Then you’ll take a blood test that measures total cholesterol, LDL “bad” cholesterol, HDL “good” cholesterol, and triglycerides (blood fat). If you’re 20 or older, you should get this test at least every five years.
Type 2 Diabetes
One-third of Americans with diabetes don’t know they have it. Diabetes can cause heart or kidney disease, stroke, blindness from damage to the blood vessels of the retina (shown here), and other serious problems. You can control diabetes with diet, exercise, weight loss, and medication, especially when you find it early. Type 2 diabetes is the most common form of the disease. Type 1 diabetes is usually diagnosed in children and young adults.
Screening for Diabetes
You’ll probably have to fast for eight hours or so before having your blood tested for diabetes. A blood sugar level of 100-125 may show prediabetes; 126 or higher may mean diabetes. Other tests include the A1C test and the oral glucose tolerance test. If you’re healthy and have a normal diabetes risk, you should be screened every three years starting at age 45. Talk to your doctor about getting tested earlier if you have a higher risk, like a family history of diabetes.
Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV)
HIV is the virus that causes AIDS. It’s spread through sharing blood or body fluids with an infected person, such as through unprotected sex or dirty needles. Pregnant women with HIV can pass the infection to their babies. There is still no cure or vaccine, but early treatment with anti-HIV medications can help the immune system fight the virus.
HIV Screening Tests
HIV can be symptom-free for many years. The only way to find out if you have the virus is with blood tests. The ELISA or EIA test looks for antibodies to HIV. If you get a positive result, you’ll need a second test to confirm the results. Still, you can test negative even if you’re infected, so you may need to repeat the test. Everyone should get tested at least once between ages 13-64.
Preventing the Spread of HIV
Most newly infected people test positive around two months after being exposed to the virus. But in rare cases it may take up to six months to develop HIV antibodies. Use a condom during sex to avoid getting or passing on HIV or other STDs. If you have HIV and are pregnant, talk with your doctor about reducing the risk to your unborn child.
Colorectal Cancer
Colorectal cancer is the second most common cause of cancer death after lung cancer. Most colon cancers come from polyps (abnormal masses) that grow on the inner lining of the large intestine. The polyps may or may not be cancerous. If they are, the cancer can spread to other parts of the body. Removing polyps early, before they become cancerous, can prevent it completely.
Screening for Colorectal Cancer
A colonoscopy is a common screening test for colorectal cancer. While you’re mildly sedated, a doctor inserts a small flexible tube equipped with a camera into your colon. If she finds a polyp, she can often remove it right then. Another type of test is a flexible sigmoidoscopy, which looks into the lower part of the colon. If you’re at average risk, screening usually starts at age 50.
Glaucoma
Glaucoma happens when pressure builds up inside your eye. Without treatment, it can damage the optic nerve and cause blindness. Often, it produces no symptoms until your vision has already been damaged.
Glaucoma Screening
How often you should get your eyes checked depends on your age and risk factors. They include being African-American or Hispanic, being over 60, eye injury, steroid use, and a family history of glaucoma. People without risk factors or symptoms of eye disease should get a baseline eye exam, including a test for glaucoma, at age 40.
Bottom Line: It’s good health sense to talk with your doctor about screening tests. Some tests, such as a Pap test or breast exam, should be a routine part of every woman’s health care. Other tests might be necessary based on your risk factors. Proper screening won’t always prevent a disease, but it can often find a disease early enough to give you the best chance of overcoming it.

Nuts For Your Nuts!-Walnuts and Sperm Quality

November 5, 2012
Walnuts For Your Testicles

Walnutes May Improve Sperm Counts

Eating just 2.5 ounces of walnuts per day can improve your testicles ability to produce quality sperm. Walnuts contain high quantities omega-3 fatty acids which some studies have linked to improved sperm quality.

This study appeared in the journal Biology of Reproduction in August 2012. I might also add that the California Walnut Commission sponsored the study.

Bottom Line: For men with abnormal or low sperm counts and are trying to achieve a pregnancy, consider a handful of walnuts every day. It may not help but it certainly won’t hurt.

3 Cups Of Coffee A Day May Keep The Skin Doctor Away

November 12, 2011

Just when you heard that coffee is bad for you, here’s some news to use that can counter the bad news. Brand-new research finds that people who drink coffee are at reduced risk of developing basal cell carcinoma, the most common form of skin cancer. And the more they drink, the lower the risk.
The data came out of the Nurses’ Health Study at the Harvard School of Public Health that followed 113,000 subjects. They found 25,480 incidences of skin cancer, 22,786 of the basal cell carcinoma, 1,953 squamous cell carcinoma and 741 melanoma.
The data showed that women who consumed more than three cups of caffeinated coffee a day had a 20 percent lower risk of basal cell carcinoma compared with those who drank less than a cup a month. For men, the reduced risk was more modest, just 9 percent. But those percentages add up, given that about 1 million new cases of basal cell carcinoma are diagnosed each year, according to the press release announcing the unpublished research.
There was no association between coffee consumption and either squamous cell carcinoma or melanoma. And the researchers found no reduction in skin cancer risk among those who drank decaffeinated coffee.
Though easily treated through minor surgery and not typically deadly, basal cell carcinoma can, if left untreated, spread to other parts of the body. Those with a history of basal cell carcinoma are at increased risk of more dangerous squamous cell carcinoma and melanoma.
Bottom Line: Coffee, like almost everything else in life, needs to be taken in moderation. It may just decrease your risk of skin cancer….but I still suggest using sun screen!
This blog was modified from an article in the Washington Post on 10-25-2011 Jennifer LaRue Huget