If you’re taking the blood pressure medicine called hydrochlorothiazide, should you consider a switch if you’re worried about sunburn? Elizabeth Tracey reports


High blood pressure is known to increase the risk for heart attack and stroke, so treating it is important, and often starts with medicines like hydrochlorothiazide. Yet research by Anna Chien and colleagues at Johns Hopkins has shown that for some groups of people taking this medicine, sunburns do occur more often and these are known to increase the risk of skin cancer. Chien says don’t panic.

Chien: My recommendation in alignment with FDA has stated is we’re not asking patients to stop this blood pressure medicine. We know managing blood pressure is essential, it can lead to severe comorbidity, to heart attack, to strokes, so it’s important to still take this medicine but to be aware of this potential risk for skin cancer and to protect oneself, especially in that beginning period of treatment, especially in certain populations, may need additional counseling to insure that they’re protected while they’re on this medicine.  :30

Chien notes that there are alternative medicines but these may be more expensive or come with their own side effects. At Johns Hopkins, I’m Elizabeth Tracey.