Study reveals ibuprofen and other common medications increase risk of skin cancer

A new study by doctors in Florida suggests common medications people take for pain, allergies and other ailments may increase risks for skin cancer. The people who are most vulnerable are those who have already been treated for it.

Florida Cancer Specialists conducted a study and determined certain medications are undermining skin protection, specifically photosensitizing drugs.

“The majority of patients that developed skin cancer in our geriatric Florida population were taking photosensitizing drugs,” said Dr. Gerald Sokol, who is a lead researcher of the study.

Photosensitizing drugs react with the sun’s ultraviolet rays hitting human skin. And common medications that fall under this category include antibiotics, antihistamines and ibuprofen.

The researchers looked at 200 Caucasian patients between the ages of 40 and 90 years old who were treated for the two most common types of skin cancer. They found patients taking common photosensitizing drugs mentioned developed skin cancer more often.

“We don’t want patients to stop the drugs they need,” Sokol said. “They just need to be told that they need to protect themselves from ultraviolet light.”

Kristin Schmidt is a physician assistant with Advanced Dermatology in Fort Myers. She told us she is not certain if there is a direct correlation between photosensitizing drugs and skin cancer risks.

“It just depends on the patient and their history,” Schmidt said. “If they take an Aleve for a headache once in a while, they may not have that high of an amount of drug in their body to make that side effect.”

LINK: See a full list of photosensitizing drugs

This might be compared to a daily dose of something such as blood pressure medication. The study also said cholesterol and anti-fungal medicine can affect a patient’s risk of skin cancer.

Patrick Montague was visiting Fort Myers Beach for the first time, and he said he takes skin protection very seriously.

“I don’t want to get sunburned because it hurts,” Montague said. “It’s also not good for you.”

And sun protection is a big deal.

“We’re trying to take precautions to prevent any long-term damage,” Montague said.

Montague said he gets a yearly screening for skin cancer.

“I’m that concerned,” Montague said.

Anytime people are spending time in the sun, sunscreen should be used to protect against contact with skin. Filling an entire shot glass with sunblock lotion is about the measurement needed to cover the entire body for skin protection.

“It’s something we hopefully don’t have to deal with down the road,” Montague said.

Reporter:Channing Frampton
Writer:Jack Lowenstein
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