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Poppers and cancer (POPPERS)

Aug 13, 2007

I don't know if you can help me Robert? I have found myself more recently becoming dependent on poppers and using them when pleasuring myself. However, I have noticed that I am getting pains in my chest and I am not sure whether this is due to the poppers or due to a recent bad cold I have just had. I have just realised that isobutyl nitrite and other nitrate based stimulants are very carcinogenic and I am worried that my exposure to these has caused a tumour in my chest; hence the pains. I went to my Dr and he said the pain was to do with an intercostal muscle that I had damaged, but contrary to what he told me the pain has not gone away. How bad are poppers for you?



Response from Dr. Frascino

Hi John,

If your doctor checked you out, I strongly doubt your problem is a tumor. If your discomfort is continuing, go back for a follow-up visit.

As for poppers, I have nothing new to report since the last time I addressed this topic, so I'll just reprint some information from the archives below.

Good luck John.

Dr. Bob

HIV and popper usage Jul 1, 2006

Hello Doctor...and thank you for considering my question. I have recently been using poppers more often. I continue to engage in low(er) risk sexual activity (condoms always, but not for receptive oral sex...and some receptive butt play but always gloved). Assuming that I do not change my behavior or take heightened risks with the popper use, would I physiologically more vulnerable to hiv from inhaling them? Also, the last time I used them I noticed a persistent scotoma which lasts for many hours...scary....can poppers make me go blind???! Yikes, I hope not....I really enjoy them, but nothing is worth compromising my health or eyesight. I look forward to you response...thanks again, Dr. Fascino!! (ps...My lover and I just got married in Canada last week...I just had to through that in (big smile!).

Response from Dr. Frascino


First off, congratulations newly weds! Steve (Dr. Steve in The Body's Tratamientos Forum) and I almost got hitched when they were handing out marriage licenses here in San Francisco. We had a date and time scheduled, but the California Supreme Court decided not to recognize or validate our 12-year relationship. Consequently we are still living in sin, but we did proceed with the scheduled wedding party. Called it our "Nearly-Wed Party."

Next, poppers . . . . I've addressed this topic a number of times in the past, so I'll just repost a question from the archives. See below. Poppers do not cause blindness. The basic worry is that poppers are not safe to be used with Viagra (and similar drugs). Viagra can also have effects on protease inhibitors. The combination of protease inhibitors + Viagra + poppers is particularly dangerous and must be avoided.

Stay safe. Stay well.

Dr. Bob

will Poppers make my hiv disease worse?

Sep 30, 2005

Dear Bob: Before anything I want to congratulate you because this site is becoming better and better everyday. I've been recomended to everyone who is and who is not POZ, all of them have had a lot of information from this site.. I speak spanish and some english so if I can help you in some way, I will do it just let me know.

Otherhand, I have a new partner but when he fucks me he became a little rude, (nice) but I can not relax enough so I've been using 1 or 2 smells from my Iron Horse poppers EVERY DAY! I HaVENT FEEL nothing since I started my treatment 6 years ago.. my viral load have been undetectable just a little problems with my Lipids (scondary effects from my meds) .. but away from that I could say I'm a healthy guy. Please give my your oppinion. is it too Bad?

Thanks a lot.

Response from Dr. Frascino


Thanks for your kind words. Regarding poppers, there really isn't any new information, so I'll just repost one of my answers form the archives that addresses your concerns.

Stay well.

Dr. Bob

Poppers and Meds Jul 1, 2005

Is it OK to use poppers while on HIV meds. I don't use them often but I have used them.



Response from Dr. Frascino

Hi Elvis,

Elvis??? The ELVIS???? You mean all those rumors really were true? You're alive???

Regarding the risk of poppers and HIV meds, the biggest concern would be if you consider baby blue Viagra (or Cialis or Levitra) one of your HIV meds! Combining poppers and Viagra can lead to dangerous drops in blood pressure. As for poppers and HIV disease in general, I'll repost one of my responses form the archives, as nothing has really changed since then, OK? Stay well. Stay cool, Elvis!

Dr. Bob

poppers and hiv :Jan 19, 2004


dr. bob, i remember reading a while back a posting on this site about the use of poppers and its effect on the immune system, but i can't find the posting. could you comment on this? also, any general remarks you can make about the use of poppers is appreciated. thanks!

Response from Dr. Frascino


Sure, I'll repost my previous comments (see below). You can also search the archives of this site for any topic by simply typing in a keyword, such as "poppers," and hitting the "search" tab. Try it. You'll like it! (No, not poppers, the archives search function. Then again, there is the possibility you'll like both! )

Dr. Bob


Dr. Bob:

This probably isn't quite the right forum, but none of the others seem any more appropriate, and when it comes to sex, I can bank on a helpful and laugh-inducing answer from you. So, for those of us who are positive (diagnosed 3 months ago), what is the deleterious effect of poppers. Or is there even a deleterious effect? In other words, if they're especially bad for folks with HIV, how bad? Hasta Lavista, Babee

My Response:


"Hasta Lavista Babee?" Arnold, is that you??? First you wanted to know about the long-term side effects of excessive steroid uses, and now you're wondering about poppers.

OK, OK, here's what we know. "Poppers" is the common name for a variety of chemical compounds in the alkyl nitrite family (including isobutyl nitrite, butyl nitrite, and amyl nitrite). So why the clever nickname poppers? Well, we (doctors) prescribed amyl nitrite for patients with certain kinds of heart conditions. The prescription medication came in containers that were snapped open or "popped" to release the vapors, which were then inhaled. We no longer use this medication but non-prescription amyl nitrite is now made and sold illegally. Today most poppers are either isobutyl or butyl nitrite sold in small brown bottles often labeled as "video head cleaner," "room deodorizer," or "leather cleaner." Anyone who has ever taken a whiff of this stuff probably realizes that the thought of using it as a "room deodorizer" is laughable. Does anyone really want their room to smell like a cross between dirty gym socks and spoiled Limburger cheese? OK Arnold, so maybe you do . . . . Moving on. I should point out that the exact contents of these "little brown bottles" is not known, and that they have not been safety tested. So what are the effects? Poppers are used by sniffing the vapors from the open bottle. The effects are felt within a few seconds and last several minutes. Poppers cause muscles around blood vessels to relax, making your heart speed up to pump more blood. The oxygen-rich blood reaching the brain produces a "rush" sensation. Poppers also cause muscles in the anus and vagina to relax, and that's why they are often used during sex. So what's the risk? First off, contact with the skin can cause irritation and rashes. Extensive use can damage the lining of the nose and lungs. Some people experience headaches, vertigo (sensation of spinning or falling), and loss of their woody. (Oh no, where did you go?) Poppers are highly flammable. Keep them away from cigarettes, candles, and lighters. Medically speaking, there have been some studies suggesting that poppers may reduce immune system functioning for several days after use; and may be associated with more rapid progression of Kaposi's sarcoma. Because poppers cause blood vessels to open, it is easier to get infections, including some STD's and HIV. Poppers pose extra risks for HIVers, because they already may have suppressed immune systems. Risks are also greater for folks with heart problems, blood pressure problems, and pregnancy. Combining poppers with party drugs, like speed or cocaine, increases their risks. Combining poppers with Viagra can be lethal, as both cause blood pressure to drop. (Yes, deaths have been reported with this combination.) Other risks include impaired judgment. The incidence of unsafe sex appears to be associated with popper use. Finally, I must point out that possession of amyl nitrite without a doctor's prescription is illegal. Federal law bans the manufacture and distribution of butyl nitrite and related substances, although as a quick look on the Internet or at your friendly local neighborhood sex shop will confirm, this law is not being enforced.

So finally, is it worth the risk? Well, like riding a motorcycle without a helmet, or thinking an aging action hero can govern the state of California, it's a risk that only you can decide to take or not. I'm just here to provide the facts! Personally, I feel caution is warranted. Hope that helps!

Dr. Bob

Poppers: Large Cancer Increase and Immune Suppression in Animal Tests by John S. James

A new study found that mice injected with cancer cells were more than three times as likely to develop tumors if they inhaled isobutyl nitrite -- "poppers" -- and that when tumors did develop, they grew four times as rapidly in the inhalant-treated animals.(1) 75% of the mice receiving nitrite developed the tumors in this test, vs. 21% of the control mice (which received the same cancer cells but breathed only air instead). The amount of inhalant used -- 900 parts per million for 45 minutes a day -- was selected to approximate social use of the drug.

Other laboratory tests found that isobutyl nitrite did not increase growth of the tumor cells; instead it suppressed certain immune functions, including cytotoxic T lymphocyte (CTL) activity, and the killing of tumor cells by macrophages -- which was reduced 86% by 5 days exposure to the inhalation. Previously published work by the same team(2) found that immunity in the mice recovered within 14 days of stopping the inhalant. (The current paper suggested that permanent damage might still be done if immune suppression allowed cancer, KS, or HIV itself, to become established.)

This is the first study showing directly that nitrite inhalant can promote tumor growth. Previously, epidemiological studies had found that use of poppers is associated with KS, and also is an independent risk factor for infection with HIV (suggesting that poppers may increase the risk that exposure to HIV will lead to infection). KS is believed to be caused by a different virus, HHV-8, that presents little risk unless the immune system is suppressed by other factors. (The tumor cells used in this research were not KS, but they were a well-known cell line used in animal tests to measure immune suppression.)

Comment Malignancies are a major and increasing problem in AIDS, and it will be important to find out if use of poppers is contributing to their higher incidence. One way to research this question would be to ask whether or not patients with lymphoma or other malignancies are more likely than others to have used these drugs.

References 1. Soderberg LSF. Increased tumor growth in mice exposed to inhaled isobutyl nitrite. Toxicology Letters, 1999; volume 104, pages 35-41.

scratched at a circuit party

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