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Study links cancer to use of ARBs


People who use a range of drugs commonly taken to treat high blood pressure and heart failure could be at a “modestly increased risk” of new cancer diagnosis, a study has claimed.

US researchers have found that people taking angiotensin receptor blockers (ARB) have a 1.2% rise in absolute cancer risks than those who were not treated with the drugs. One health expert described the finding as “disturbing and provocative” but others told ARB patients not to stop taking the medication, which can prove potentially life-saving.

A previous study into the ARB candesartan had claimed a rise in fatal cancers among patients treated with the drug and, for the new research, scientists looked at all the previously-published reports into ARB data from before November 2009. They also took into account five new trials involving 61,590 people and trends relating to breast, lung and prostate cancers, and cancer deaths. ARB telmisartan was being taken by more than 85% of patients.

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About 7.2% of patients who were being treated with an ARB had a new cancer diagnosis compared to only 6% of those who were not treated with the drugs.

Research lead author Dr Ilke Sipahi, from Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine in Cleveland, Ohio, said the figure should not be taken out of context. Writing in the Lancet Oncology medical journal, he added: “The finding of a 1.2% increase in absolute cancer risk over an average of four years needs to be interpreted in view of the estimated 41% background lifetime cancer risk.”

Copyright Press Association 2010
Lancet Oncology

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