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High blood pressure can increase the risk of skin cancer: Health Canada

A blood pressure patient checked by a nurse.

TORONTO – Health Canada says long-term use of a medication commonly prescribed for elevated blood pressure can increase the risk of developing cancer without melanoma.

Hydrochlorothiazide is a diuretic or water pudder, which is also prescribed to reduce the retention of fluid associated with heart failure and some kidney and liver problems.

The safety provided by Health Canada found that taking medication can make the skin more sensitive to ultraviolet radiation from sunlight and sunbathing equipment.

A survey of research findings shows that patients taking the medicine for more than three years could have at least four times the risk of developing nonelanomaniac skin cancer.

However, Health Canada states that due to study constraints, such as lack of patient exposure data on sun exposure and severity, there is uncertainty about the findings.

Even so, people taking Hydrochlorothiazide are advised to limit exposure to UV radiation and to seek medical attention if they discover new skin lesions or changes in lipids.

The federal ministry says doctors should consider alternative medicines for patients with increased risk of skin cancer without melanoma, including those with light skin or personal or family history of skin cancer.

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