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Melanoma/Skin Cancer Health Center

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Blood Pressure Drugs and Lip Cancer: A Link?

Certain Hypertension Medicines May Boost Risk of Lip Cancer: Study

Blood Pressure Drugs & Lip Cancers: Results continued...

The findings for lisinopril were more uncertain than for some other drugs, Friedman says. When taken alone, atenolol was not linked with an increased risk of lip cancer.

The average age at diagnosis was 68. Most people had a cancer type known as squamous cell.

Cigarette smoking, a known risk factor for oral cancers, further boosted risk for lip cancer, Friedman says.

"Cigarette smokers had about a 1.5-fold increased risk," he says.

No information was available on occupations or on sun exposure.

The findings would most probably extend to skin cancers elsewhere, he says. Other research has shown a link, he says. This type of study, too, can only show a link, not cause and effect.

Friedman suggests wearing a hat wide brimmed enough to shade the lips. Lip balms and lipsticks often contain sunscreen.

Among other medicines that make people more sensitive to the sun, he says, are certain antidepressants, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, and antibiotics.

The National Cancer Institute supported the study. Friedman has consulted for Allergan, but the company had no role in the current study.

High Blood Pressure Drugs & Lip Cancer: Second Opinion

"It's certainly an important link if it is real," says Peter Galier, MD, an internal medicine specialist at UCLA Medical Center, Santa Monica. He reviewed the findings.

Other research needs to verify it, says Galier, an associate professor of medicine at the University of California, Los Angeles, David Geffen School of Medicine.

Until that is done, he says, one message would be to "protect your lips as you protect your face."

"Another big message is, if you are on these drugs please stop smoking, because your risk of lip cancer skyrockets."

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