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Sildenafil and Skin Cancer Risk

Jun 24, 2014

As Harvard Men’s Health Watch Executive Editor Daniel Pendick explains in this post from the Harvard Health Blog, 4.3 out of every 1,000 men in this study who didn’t take Viagra developed melanoma. And 8.6 out of every 1,000 men whodid take Viagra also developed melanoma.

After statistical adjustments are made, this shows that the risk increases 84% from one group to the other.

That sounds like a lot. However, this percentage refers to relative risk.  Relative risk applies only to two specific groups – in this case, the men who didn’t take Viagra and those who did in this particular study.

When discussing studies like this one, looking at absolute risk is more helpful.  Absolute risk is the risk of developing an illness over time. In this case, the risk increases by 4.3 cases in every 1,000 men or 0.43%.

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