Is a Common Hypertension Drug Linked to Increased Skin Cancer Risk?

Mole on shoulderHydrochlorothiazide use was associated with a significantly increased risk for non-melanoma skin cancer (NMSC), according to a recent study.


Using data from the Danish Cancer Register, the researchers identified patients diagnosed with NMSC and age- and sex-matched controls. Logistic regression was used to calculate the odds ratio (ORs) for basal cell carcinoma (BCC) and squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) based on cumulative hydrochlorothiazide use, which was determined using the Danish Prescription registry.
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The researchers found a clear dose-response relationship between hydrochlorothiazide use and BCC and SCC. The ORs for high hydrochlorothiazide use (50,000 mg or greater) were 1.29 for BCC and 3.98 for SCC. Additionally, the highest cumulative dose category (200,000 mg or greater) had ORs of 1.54 for BCC and 7.38 for SCC.

However, the use of other diuretics and antihypertensive medications were not associated with an increased risk for NMSC.

“Hydrochlorothiazide use is associated with a substantially increased risk of NMSC, especially SCC,” the researchers concluded.

—Melissa Weiss


Arnspang S, Gaist D, Schmidt SAJ, et al. Hydrochlorothiazide use and risk of non-melanoma skin cancer: A nationwide case-control study from Denmark [published online December 3, 2017]. J Am Acad Dermatol