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Study: Blood Pressure Drugs Linked to Cancer

A drug commonly used to treat blood pressure, heart failure and diabetes-related kidney damage, was linked to a “modest” increased risk of cancer in a study published Monday.

The Lancet Oncology journal’s research on the use of angiotensin receptor blockers (ARBs) found 7.2 percent of patients who took ARBs were given a new cancer diagnosis, compared to 6 percent of patients not treated with ARBs, over the same four-year period.

The U.S. study described the results as showing “ARBs are associated with a modestly increased risk of new cancer diagnosis,” and said the findings warrant further investigation.

Of the specific solid organ cancers examined, only instances of lung cancer were significantly higher in the patients assigned ARBs.

For the analysis, scientists used publicly available data from ARB studies conducted before November 2009 and fresh data on 61,590 new cancer patients and 93,515 cancer death victims.

There was no significant difference in cancer deaths between the two groups studied.

The Wall Street Journal reported that a cardiologist at the Cleveland Clinic said ARBs should be used with caution.

Steven Nissen, wrote in an accompanying commentary in The Lancet: "These drugs are often overprescribed, as a result of aggressive marketing and in the absence of evidence that they are better than angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors (another class of drugs)."

The paper could not reach ARB drug manufacturers for comment.

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