Blood Pressure Drugs Linked to Cancer, But Don't Stop Taking Them

heart artistic renderingThe big medical news today about angiotensin-receptor blockers (ARBs) in some blood pressure medicines being linked to cancer might make you want to stop taking your drugs.

But don't stop taking them.

Discontinuing medication could be more dangerous than any possible cancer risk, and there may not be as much to the recent Lancet paper as members of the medical community are making out.

The big study that everyone is talking about looked at four of seven available medications containing ARBs -- losartan (Cozaar), candesartan (Atacand), telmisartan (Micardis), and valsartan (Diovan). At least one drug company disputes the data and has presented its own research showing that its drug is safe.


So what's all the fuss about these things called angiotensin-receptor blockers? They are a very popular ingredient, used in 82 million prescriptions. They work by reducing the risk of stroke and the risk of death from left ventricular dysfunction after heart attacks, they slow progression in chronic kidney disease, and they improve outcomes in heart failure, according to MedPage Today.

But some scientists looking at years of data believe these drugs lead to an 8 percent increased risk of a new cancer developing. While some doctors say these findings are significant and need to be looked into further, others say the study is weak.You can bet there will be follow-up.

Of the four drugs studied, 86 percent of the new cancers came from patients taking telmisartan, marketed as Micardis by Boehringer Ingelheim. So while you should not halt your medication, if you're taking this drug in particular you might want to get on the phone and schedule an appointment with your doc, or at least arrange for a phone chat.

Are you taking any of these medications?

Image via oedipusphinx/Flickr

Read More >