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Long-Term Use of Blood Pressure Medications that Promote Sun Sensitivity May Increase Risk of Lip Cancer in Non-Hispanic Whites
Date:8/6/2012

OAKLAND, Calif., Aug. 6, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- Long-term use of commonly used blood pressure medications that increase sensitivity to sunlight is associated with an increased risk of lip cancer in non-Hispanic whites, according to a Kaiser Permanente study that appears in the current online issue of Archives of Internal Medicine.

Funded by the National Cancer Institute, the study found that photosensitizing antihypertensive drugs such as nifedipine and hydrochlorothiazide were associated with cancer of the epithelial cells known as squamous cells—which are the main part of the outermost layer of the lips and skin.

Researchers compared 712 patients in Northern California with lip cancer to 22,904 people in a control group and found that the risk of squamous cell lip cancer was higher for those with long-term use of photosensitizing blood pressure medications.

"Lip cancer remains rare and an increased risk of developing it is generally outweighed by the benefits of these blood pressure drugs and other photosensitizing medications," said Gary Friedman, MD, an emeritus researcher at the Kaiser Permanente Northern California Division of Research and lead author of the study. "Physicians prescribing photosensitizing drugs should ascertain whether patients are at high risk of lip cancer by virtue of fair skin and long-term sun exposure and discuss lip protection with them. Although not yet confirmed by clinical trials, likely preventive measures are simple: a hat with sufficiently wide brim to shade the lips and lip sunscreens."

The risk of lip cancer appeared to increase with increasing duration of use of these drugs and was not explained by a history of cigarette smoking, also a known risk factor for lip cancer, according to investigators.

Photosensitizing drugs are believed to absorb energy from ultraviolet and/or visible light, causing the release of electrons. This leads to generation of reactive oxygen intermed
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SOURCE Kaiser Permanente
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