COMMENTARY

Hydrochlorothiazide and Skin Cancer: Should We Be Worried?

Arefa Cassoobhoy, MD, MPH

Disclosures

January 12, 2018

Hello. I'm Dr Arefa Cassoobhoy, a practicing internist, Medscape advisor, and senior medical director for WebMD. Welcome to Morning Report, our 1-minute news story for primary care.

Hydrochlorothiazide is a common blood pressure medicine. We've known for some time that it comes with an increased risk for sunburn. New data suggest that it's also linked with an increased risk for skin cancer.

Danish researchers analyzed prescription drug use in more than 80,000 patients with skin malignancies and compared them with controls.[1] People who took hydrochlorothiazide daily for at least 6 years were 29% more likely to develop basal cell carcinoma. They were also almost four times more likely to get squamous cell cancer. And there was a dose-response relationship: The risk for skin cancer increased with more years of hydrochlorothiazide exposure.

This study doesn't explain why the drug is associated with skin cancer, but it does provide more proof that patients taking hydrochlorothiazide should protect their skin from UV light. And for patients at increased skin cancer risk, a change in blood pressure therapy might be warranted.

Follow Dr Cassoobhoy on Twitter at @ArefaMD

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