A growing number of studies suggest that Levitra could make melanoma (skin cancer) develop more quickly and spread to other tissues.
Levitra (vardenafil) is a prescription medication for men with erectile dysfunction. It was approved by the FDA in 2002 and is sold by Bayer HealthCare.
How Does Levitra Work?
Levitra and Viagra have a very similar chemical structure. They both block an enzyme called Phosphodiesterase-5 (PDE5), which relaxes blood vessels and increases blood-flow to the penis.
FDA Considers Issuing Safety Warnings
The FDA announced in June 2016 that it was evaluating new evidence of a “serious risk” of melanoma from Levitra and other erectile dysfunction drugs.
Study Finds 84% Increased Risk
June 2016 — JAMA Internal Medicine published a study by Harvard researchers who found an 84% increased risk of melanoma associated with Viagra. The conclusions were based on data from 25,000 men over 10 years.
Studies Linking PDE5-Inhibitors and Melanoma
Many studies suggest that blocking PDE5 speeds up the development of melanoma and makes it more aggressive. The first study was published in 2008. Since then, the following studies have found higher risks:
- January 2011 — Cancer Cell published a study linking PDE5 inhibitors with increased melanoma invasiveness.
- August 2012 — Journal of Cell Biochemistry published a study linking Levitra with accelerated development of melanoma.
What is Melanoma?
Melanoma is the most serious type of skin cancer. It grows in cells called melanocytes, which make pigment in skin color. The American Cancer Society estimates that melanoma will be diagnosed in about 76,000 people in 2016, and about 10,000 will die from it.
Symptoms of Melanoma
- Asymmetrical shape
- Uneven border
- Scalloped edges
- Multiple colors (red, black, blue, brown, etc.)
- Evolves over time
- Larger than a pencil eraser (1/4-inch)
- And more