Common blood pressure drugs known as ARBs or Angiotensin-Receptor Blockers increase the risk of developing new cancers according to an in-depth study by the University Hospitals Care Medical Center and Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine in Cleveland.
ARBs are used to reduce blood pressure in patients suffering from heart disease and other cardiovascular complaints. Although the increased cancer risk is only small with one extra cancer being diagnosed for every 105 people taking ARBs, they are taken by millions of people worldwide which adds up to a lot of new cancers.
What Does the Study Show?
The study, which was published in The Lancet Oncology used data from nine previous medical trials. It followed a 2003 trail which indicated a link between ARBs and cancer deaths.
The people included in the trial were divided into three groups for analysis.
- New cancer development. Around 68,000 people were studied to see if there was a link between ARBs and new cancer development.
- Specific cancers. Around 61,000 people were studied to see if there was a link between ARBs and specific cancers such as lung, breast and prostate cancer.
- Cancer deaths. Around 93,000 people were studied to see if there was a link between ARBs and cancer death.
The results of the study indicated that ARBs slightly increase the risk of developing new cancers. 7.2% of people that were taking ARBs developed new cancers during the period of the study, while only 6% of people that weren’t taking ARBs developed cancer. That’s an extra cancer case for every 105 people.
The results were less obvious in the other groups. There appeared to be a small increased risk of lung cancer, as 0.9% of people in the second group that were taking ARBs suffered from lung cancer, while only 0.7% of people in the group that were not taking ARBs developed the same disease. There was no difference in the risk of breast or prostate cancer. Equally, there didn’t seem to be a link between ARBs and cancer deaths.
How Can ARBs Increase Cancer Risk?
Although the link is not entirely understood, it is possible that ARBs may influence the growth of blood vessels in cancerous tumors, making them grow more quickly. Further clinical trials are needed to establish a firm link between ARBs and cancer, and while this takes place, experts are urging patients not to stop using ARBs without consulting their doctors.
What Do ARBs Do?
ARBs are blood pressure lowering drugs and are usually used by people that already have a history of heart disease. They block specific receptors in the body, causing blood vessels to relax and blood to circulate more easily; lowering blood pressure.
There are a number of side effects associated with ARBs, with common ones being dizziness, headaches, a runny nose and muscle cramps. More severe but less frequent side effects include kidney and liver problems and hyperkalemia, a serious condition where potassium levels in the blood become too high.
Natural Ways to Reduce Blood Pressure
Lifestyle changes are one of the most effective ways of reducing blood pressure. These include:
- Taking regular exercise
- Reducing alcohol intake
- Eating a diet of whole foods
- Limiting salt intake
- Increasing foods high in potassium
- Losing weight
- Reducing caffeine intake
- Learning relaxation techniques
There are also a number of foods that can help to naturally reduce blood pressure. One of the keys foods is beets, which can be eaten raw, baked, juiced, or taken as a supplement. Bananas and avocados are also great for lowering blood pressure.