Anti-hypertensive drugs and skin cancer risk: a review of the literature and meta-analysis

Sara Gandini, Domenico Palli, Giuseppe Spadola, Benedetta Bendinelli, Emilia Cocorocchio, Ignazio Stanganelli, Lucia Miligi, Giovanna Masala, Saverio Caini

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Introduction Several anti-hypertensive drugs have photosensitizing properties, however it remains unclear whether long-term users of these drugs are also at increased risk of skin malignancies. We conducted a literature review and meta-analysis on the association between use of anti-hypertensive drugs and the risk of cutaneous melanoma and non-melanoma skin cancer (NMSC). Methods We searched PubMed, EMBASE, Google Scholar and the Cochrane Library, and included observational and experimental epidemiological studies published until February 28th, 2017. We calculated summary relative risk (SRR) and 95% confidence intervals (95% CI) through random effect models to estimate the risk of skin malignancies among users of the following classes of anti-hypertensive drugs: thiazide diuretics, angiotensin converting enzyme inhibitors (ACEi), angiotensin receptor blockers (ARB), calcium channel blockers (CCB) and β-blockers. We conducted sub-group and sensitivity analysis to explore causes of between-studies heterogeneity, and assessed publication bias using a funnel-plot based approach. Results Nineteen independent studies were included in the meta-analysis. CCB users were at increased skin cancer risk (SRR 1.14, 95% CI 1.07–1.21), and β-blockers users were at increased risk of developing cutaneous melanoma (SRR 1.21, 95% CI 1.05–1.40), with acceptable between-studies heterogeneity (I2 < 50%). There was no association between thiazide diuretics, ACEi or ARB use and skin cancer risk. We found no evidence of publication bias affecting the results. Conclusion Family doctors and clinicians should inform their patients about the increased risk of skin cancer associated with the use of CCB and β-blockers and instruct them to perform periodic skin self-examination. Further studies are warranted to elucidate the observed associations.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-9
Number of pages9
JournalCritical Reviews in Oncology/Hematology
Publication statusPublished - Feb 1 2018


  • Anti-hypertensive drugs
  • Basal cell cancer
  • Calcium channel blockers
  • Diuretics
  • Melanoma
  • Meta-analysis
  • Non-melanoma skin cancer
  • Review
  • Squamous cell cancer
  • β-blockers

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Hematology
  • Oncology
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology


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