(HealthDay News) — The small apparent increase in risk of melanoma in men prescribed phosphodiesterase type 5 (PDE5) inhibitors may be explained by greater sun exposure, according to new research published online in PLOS Medicine.

The new study included 145,104 men prescribed a PDE5 inhibitor. The investigators compared the men taking the medications to 560,933 men who didn’t use them.

The researchers found a slightly increased risk of melanoma in men who took the drugs compared to those who didn’t. There was evidence of a similar association between the use of PDE5 inhibitors and basal cell carcinoma and solar keratosis. The team also found strong evidence suggesting that men with a history of solar keratosis were more likely to become PDE5 inhibitor users.

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“All of our observations pointed towards the small apparent increase in risk of melanoma in men prescribed PDE5 inhibitors being explained by greater sun exposure, rather than a side effect of the drugs themselves,” senior author Krishnan Bhaskaran, PhD, of the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, said in a journal news release.

One author disclosed financial ties to GlaxoSmithKline.

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1. Matthews A, Langan SM, Douglas IJ, Smeeth L, and Bhaskaran K. Phosphodiesterase Type 5 Inhibitors and Risk of Malignant Melanoma: Matched Cohort Study Using Primary Care Data from the UK Clinical Practice Research Datalink. PLOS One. doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1002037.