Diuretics are often the first option doctors turn to for treating high blood pressure. And there are a lot of things you know to expect when you take these meds.
For example, you expect to be heading to the bathroom soon and often. After all, they don’t call diuretics “water pills” for nothing.
You might expect some dizziness, especially when you first stand up. This is why these drugs are often linked to falls and injuries.
And you can expect, of course, that your blood pressure will drop. That’s why you’re on the diuretics in the first place.
But what you DON’T expect is that this common pill could send your risk for a disease far worse than hypertension skyrocketing.
But research reveals that’s exactly what could happen. If you’re taking diuretics, a new study finds your skin cancer risk could soar.
EXPOSED: Diuretics linked to skin cancer
Now to be clear, not every skin cancer is deadly. In fact, most aren’t. But they’re not exactly a cakewalk, either.
Skin cancers can lead to painful medical procedures as well as permanent scars and other disfigurements. And often, that scarring is in the most visible spots possible such as your face, neck, and ears.
And new research finds if you’re on thiazide diuretics, such as hydrochlorothiazide for blood pressure, you’re at a higher risk for all of them.
- basal cell carcinoma
- squamous cell carcinoma
- advanced keratinocyte carcinoma
- potentially deadly melanoma
If there’s any good news, it’s that the study finds no real short-term risk linked to the medications.
But let’s be honest, who takes diuretics for the short-term?
As I mentioned, these drugs are often a doctor’s first choice for blood pressure. And if your BP starts rising again, they seldom stop the meds. They simply add another to the mix.
In other words, they give you both the diuretics AND the more powerful medication. And as a result, most people aren’t just on diuretics for years. They take them for decades – often for the rest of their lives.
And that’s when the risks really add up.
Long term use brings bigger risks
Taking 25 mg of hydrochlorothiazide for 10 years, for example, raises the risk of keratinocyte carcinoma by 40 percent. And after 20 years, the odds leap to 75 percent.
The new study finds other BP meds like ACE inhibitors, and beta-blockers don’t have that same cancer risk. But that’s not really much reason to celebrate.
Those other meds, in many ways, are far worse when it comes to potential side effects. So you’re really just trading one set of risks for another.
But that’s a swap you might never need to make. If you have borderline hypertension, there are a couple of natural options that could help you head off the need for dangerous meds like those diuretics.
One study found L-carnitine supplements could cut nearly 8 points off your blood pressure. While other research found a similar benefit for lycopene.
Talk to a holistic or naturopathic doctor for more non-drug options based on your exact needs, risks, and lifestyle factors. You could potentially avoid the drugs altogether.