Risk of Breast Cancer Could Rise from One Hypertension Medication

A new study is indicating that women who take a certain specific form of high blood pressure medication could be at a higher risk of breast cancer. The scientists discovered that the female participants in the study who were treating their high blood pressure for more than a decade through the use of calcium-channel blockers had a likelihood of breast cancer that is 2.5 times greater than those who did not use the medication or who used a different form of hypertension drug.

At the same time, Dr. Christopher Li, one of the study’s researchers, an epidemiologist, and a Fred Hutchison Cancer Research Center (located in Seattle) breast cancer researcher, explained that “While the results are intriguing, we really need to wait until we see confirmatory studies before we make any kind of recommendations.” Li also advised that patients who are on the medications should continue to take them. Concerns should be brought up with the prescribing doctor, but the use of the drug should continue unless that medical professional advises otherwise.

Approximately 1,900 women who had breast cancer participated in this research. There were also around 850 women in the study who did not have any cancer, making up the control group. The study was published on August 5, 2013 in the Journal of the American Medical Association. It did not find any link between a higher risk of breast cancer and the use of other forms of hypertension medications, such as diuretics and beta-blockers.

High blood pressure treatment drugs, known as antihypertensives, are the type of medication that are prescribed the most in the United States. In 2010, there were an estimated 678 million prescriptions of this nature that were filled. Among them, about 98 million were calcium channel blockers, according to the researchers.

Accompanying the study was an editorial written by Boston University’s Dr. Patricia Coogan, a professor of epidemiology. Within it, Dr. Coogan wrote that this study is not the first time that a connection has been suggested between calcium channel blocker medications and an increased risk of breast cancer.

However, the studies that have been previously performed have generated mixed outcomes. The reason is that they either did not run for a long enough period of time, or their participant groups were too small to come up with any definitive conclusions. According to Coogan, however, this most recent research is a “very well-done study” and may indeed offer a confirmation to the hypothesis that has been formed as a result of the previous research.

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