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A recent study revealed that some high blood pressure medications could increase the risk of developing skin cancer in senior citizens. It suggests that prolonged use of antihypertensive medication like hydrochlorothiazide can be linked to two types of skin cancer.

Safe blood pressure pills

However, a report by Global News said that hypertension pills like angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors, calcium channel blockers, angiotensin II receptor blockers, and beta-blockers did not increase the risk of getting skin cancer.

The study, published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal (CMAJ), incorporated over 300,000 participants from Ontario. All the participants had been prescribed antihypertensive medication between 1998 and 2017.

The FDA says that hydrochlorothiazide, a blood pressure medication causes hypersensitivity to light, which means that the skin gets easily sunburned. Dr. Aaron Ducker, a dermatologist at the Women’s College Hospital, explained that making the skin sensitive to ultraviolet radiation from the sun effectively increases the risk of skin cancer.

Dr. Ducker suggested that hypertensive patients predisposed to skin cancer should consult their doctors on the best medication for their unique situations. A Health Canada safety review showed that prolonged use of hydrochlorothiazide could be linked to increased risk of having non-melanoma skin cancer by up to 4 times. 

What to do

Health experts recommended reducing exposure to sunlight and limiting the use of tanning products, and always keeping a skin lotion with a minimum SPF 30 protection. They also advised the patients to go for regular skin cancer monitoring.

As for those who take thiazide diuretics, American Academy of Dermatology Association dermatologists recommended the following:

  • Continue taking the antihypertensive medication until you consult your doctor.
  • Explain to your doctor why you are concerned about the medications. Give them a brief history of cancer in your family or explain any other factors that make you more vulnerable.
  • Understand that not all types of blood pressure medication are associated with skin cancer.
  • Although the Canadian study supported existing research on the association of antihypertensive medicine with skin cancer, more research is required to make a conclusive finding.