Blood pressure drug could raise skin cancer risk

You go in for your annual medical check-up… and just because your blood pressure is a little bit on the high side you end up walking away with prescription for a drug you’re supposed to take for the rest of your life.

It’s a scenario that’s happening to more and more people now that new guidelines have lowered the threshold for high blood pressure diagnosis to anything above 130/80 (previously 140/90).

And though popping a pill sounds like an easy way to lower your blood pressure and protect your health, this story doesn’t always end so happily.

You see, many of these drugs have been shown to cause serious side effects that range from irregular heartbeat to problems in the bedroom.

And according to a new study, one drug in particular — the diuretic hydrochlorothiazide (Microzide) — may raise your risk of two types of skin cancer.

In the study, Danish researchers linked data on hydrochlorothiazide use to cancer registry records.

After they crunched the numbers, it turned out that those who took the drug daily for six years were 29 per cent more likely than those who didn’t to develop a type of skin cancer called basal cell carcinoma.

And they were four times more likely to develop squamous cell carcinoma, a form of skin cancer that can grow into deeper layers of your skin… and even spread to other parts of your body.

What’s more, when the researchers looked at those who took hydrochlorothiazide the longest — about 24 years of daily use — those subjects were 54 per cent more likely to develop basal cell carcinoma and seven times more likely to get squamous cell carcinoma than those who never took it.

That’s about as close as we can get to finding out what happens in the “rest of your life” part of the story!

Now, we know from previous studies that hydrochlorothiazide has been linked to another dermatological issue: a higher risk of sunburns.

The theory is that the drug can make you more vulnerable to skin damage from UV rays, allowing cancer to take hold.

Sure, you could slather yourself in strong sunscreen every day to protect yourself. But do you really need to be on hydrochlorothiazide in the first place?

If you ask me, it’s just too easy for mainstream docs to diagnose you with high blood pressure based on one reading… at one time… on one day.

And in many cases, simple lifestyle changes — such as losing weight, exercising regularly, and supplementing your diet with natural blood pressure regulators — can keep your blood pressure in check without side effects.

As you’ve read right here in Health eTips, I recommend magnesium, tart cherry juice, and cinnamon. Even taking a hot bath can work wonders.

But if your BP is truly dangerously high and you take hydrochlorothiazide, make sure you’re getting plenty of vitamin D in your diet — because studies show that this hero vitamin can help protect you against medication-induced sunburn.

Wishing you the best of health,

Dr. Glenn S. Rothfeld
Nutrition & Healing

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J Am Acad Dermatol. 2017 Dec 4. pii: S0190-9622(17)32741-X. doi: 10.1016/j.jaad.2017.11.042. [Epub ahead of print]

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