TORONTO – Health Canada says long-term use of medications commonly prescribed for high blood pressure may increase the risk of people who cause non-melanoma skin cancer.
Hydrochlorothiazide is a diuretic or water pill that is also prescribed to reduce fluid retention associated with heart failure and some kidney and liver problems.
Health Canada's safety report has found that taking medication can cause the skin to become more susceptible to ultraviolet radiation from the sun and tanning equipment.
From a survey of research evidence, patients taking a drug for more than three years may have at least a fourfold higher risk of non-melanoma skin cancer.
However, Health Canada says that due to limitations in studies such as lack of patient data on exposure to sunlight and severity, there is uncertainty about the findings.
However, people taking hydrochlorothiazide should recommend reducing exposure to ultraviolet radiation and seeking medical attention if they detect new skin lesions or changes in moles.
The federal department says that doctors should consider alternative medicines for patients at increased risk of non-melanoma skin cancer, including those who have honest skin or a personal or family history of skin cancer.