Recent research from UNSW Sydney has raised concerns about hydrochlorothiazide, a widely prescribed medication for high blood pressure in Australia.
The study links the drug to an increased risk of skin cancer in older adults.
Hydrochlorothiazide contains photosensitizing properties, potentially heightening skin sensitivity to sunlight.
Researchers examined skin cancer rates among older Australians using data from the Department of Veterans’ Affairs. The focus was on individuals diagnosed with lip cancer or malignant melanoma.
The study found a heightened risk for both malignant melanoma and lip cancer associated with hydrochlorothiazide usage. Prolonged use further amplified the risk for lip cancer.
Implications for Patients and Healthcare Providers
Patients are advised not to abruptly stop taking hydrochlorothiazide without consulting healthcare professionals.
The findings emphasize the need for prescribers to be more vigilant about skin cancer risks and to possibly conduct more frequent skin checks.
Reinforcing sun protection advice, especially during peak UV times, is crucial for patients on this medication.
In response to these findings, the product information for medicines containing hydrochlorothiazide has been revised to reflect the new understanding of skin cancer risks.
This research underscores the importance of ongoing evaluation of commonly prescribed medications, particularly for chronic conditions like hypertension. It highlights the need for balanced consideration of a drug’s benefits and potential risks.
While hydrochlorothiazide remains a key treatment for high blood pressure, this study calls for greater awareness of its possible side effects.
Patients and healthcare providers should engage in informed discussions about medication choices, considering individual risk factors and lifestyle habits.
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