A popular virility drug, Sildenafil, which is used to treat erectile dysfunction (ED) in men, can lead to growth of cancer of the skin, new research indicates.

A report released by scientists from the University of Tubingen indicates that Sildenafil which is used to treat ED boosts the growth of skin cancer. The drug has been around for many years and contains an active ingredient that helps men achieve better erection, boost libido, and also improve bedroom performance.

The active ingredient in the ED drug is also found in many other generic drugs and has been in the market for more than two decades. It works by inhibiting an enzyme known as phosphodiesterase type 5 (PDE5) and boosts the production and absorption of a messenger molecule referred to as cyclic guanosine monophosphate (cGMP).

In a report that was recently released by the Interfaculty Institute of Biochemistry at the University of Tubingen, researchers have discovered that though Sildenafil is an effective cure for erectile and sexual dysfunction in men, it also puts them at a higher risk of getting skin cancer.


By inhibiting the production of PDE5 and boosting the breakdown of cGMP, the vessels and tissues in the penile region enlarge/vasodilate due to higher production of Nitric Oxide (NO).This allows more blood to flow through the veins allowing the user achieve a stronger and longer lasting erection.

Unfortunately, studies indicate that the active ingredients can contribute to the growth of excess skin cells leading to a tumor. Led by Professor Robert Feil, the researchers have demonstrated that active compound in Sildenafil stimulates the production of cGMP which in turn stimulates the growth of malignant melanomas.

CGMP is a signaling molecule that plays a vital role in several complex metabolic pathways such as the heart, blood vessel cells, sensory cells, as well as neurons. However, its exact role in producing desirable and also undesirable results is not well known, and it’s believed that interfering with the pathway taken by cGMP in melanoma cells can help deal with skin cancer.

In a study contained in the most recent edition of the Cell Reports, Professor Feil and his team performed tests on human cell cultures as well as animals and concluded that boosting the production of cGMP can lead to growth of melanoma cells which is associated with the cancer of the skin.

Feil says that consuming Sildenafil means there is a break or interference of how cGMP is produced and the melanoma cells begin to grow much faster due to this. He further states that statistics show a connection between consumption of Sildenafil and risk of melanoma.

An earlier study undertaken by the German Research Foundation (DFG) in 2013 also showed this relationship.

The debate on correlation between cancer and Sildenafil has been going on for several years. A report was published in 2014 following a long-term study done on 15,000 men in the US. Going by the findings, men using Sildenafil were at a higher risk of getting cancer. This observation was confirmed by yet another study on 24,000 men done in Sweden.