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Technology and Health News > Sunday, June-27-2010

Cancer and hypertension: a hypothesis to be investigated

A study in the Lancet suggests the existence of a correlation between certain drugs and a slight increase in the risk of developing cancer.

For now it is only a hypothesis to be investigated, but according to a study published in Lancet Oncology, there may be a link between a small increase in the possibility of developing cancer and the use of certain drug receptor blockers (ARBs), commonly used worldwide to treat high blood pressure, heart attacks and kidney problems caused by diabetes. A team of Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine (Cleveland, USA) found an increased risk of cancer 1, 2 percent in patients taking medicines ARB compared with control groups.

The research examined a series of studies published before November 2009 on clinical trail drug ARB analyzing total cases of more than 60,000 patients. The analysis took into account several types of cancer, including prostate, breast and lung.

"Overall - the researchers said - the results show that patients treated with this type of antihypertensive drugs, which work by blocking the receptors for angiotensin, a hormone that increases blood pressure, seem to have a higher risk of developing cancer than those taking other drugs or placebo. Percentages are by 7.2 percent in the first case and 6 percent in the control groups.

The study did not reveal any connections details regarding the use of ARB and mortality in subjects who had been diagnosed with cancer, although, as noted by the authors, the follow up of patients may not be long enough to reveal exactly the mortality rate associated with the ARB. Concerning the incidence of cancer in organs, the only significant increase was observed for the lung: 0.9 percent in patients treated with ARB, against 0.7 percent in others.

The data, as emphasized by researchers, are incomplete and require further investigation. The message to patients is not to stop taking drugs, because the benefits outweigh the risks. The analysis also focused on only three of the seven drugs blocking angiotensin approved by the Food and Drug Administration (especially talmisartan but losartan and candesartan). For all other drugs, therefore, do not know any connections.

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