A common medicine used to treat high blood pressure may drastically increase one’s risk for developing skin cancer, according to a new study out of Denmark.
Researchers there looked at about 80,000 Danish cases of skin cancer and determined that those people who were taking hydrochlorothiazide (HCTZ) had a risk of developing skin cancer — more specifically, squamous cell carcinoma — that was up to 7 times greater than those not taking the drug. The risk was highest in those who had taken HCTZ for more than 10 years. Other hypertension medicines were looked at as part of the study, but none of them increased the risk of skin cancer.
“We knew that hydrochlorothiazide made the skin more vulnerable to damage from the sun’s UV rays, but what is new and also surprising is that long-term use of this blood pressure medicine leads to such a significant increase in the risk of skin cancer,” study leader Anton Pottegård, PhD, of the University of Southern Denmark, said in a statement.
About 10 million people in the US take a hypertension medication containing HCTZ.