Colon Cancer Risk Not Reduced With Blood Pressure Medication

Contrary to what was once believed, a new study suggests that blood pressure medication does not lessen the risk of developing colon cancer. Researchers found that blood pressure medication stops angiogenesis, which is a process in which new blood cells that would nourish tumors from developing. Therefore, taking blood pressure medication could lead to an increased risk in colon cancer and breast cancer.

The connection between the blood pressure medicine and colon cancer was discovered within animal and cell line studies. The stress hormone norepinephrine promotes the development of cancer cells and due to the fact that beta blockers reduce the production of this hormone, it was concluded that the blood pressure medication has anticancer elements. Other drug based studies also showed that the use of the medicines reduced risk for bladder, prostrate, and other cancers.

However, this belief was refuted in a study that was carried by the Cancer Journal. Michael Hoffmeister, a German medical researcher, lead a team of researchers in a study of 1,700 colorectal cancer patients comparing them with the same number of those who are free of cancer. Both groups were taking beta blockers for blood pressure control.  Other factors were also taken into consideration like smoking habits, weight and patient related factors.  The study resulted in the conclusion that the blood pressure medication did not affect or lessen  the risk for colon cancer.

The researchers, however, pointed out that they saw a link between those who have stage IV colon cancer and the long term use of the beta blocker. No indication of risk reduction was seen for those who have stages I, II and III. The study authors said that further studies should be made to establish relationships.

The conclusion came as a surprise to Dr. Robbins who stated that such study was a contradiction and that cancer is such a complex disease that further studies should be made to fully understand the relationship of beta blockers and cancer growth.

Dr. Mark Pochapin, director of the division of gastroenterology at NYU Langone Medical Center in New York City was not all surprised with the study results. He said that screening for colon cancer should start when people turn 50 years of age and every 10 years thereafter.  There are also many aspects to consider when it comes to risk factors for colon cancer – genes, lifestyle, and diet. Dr. Pochapin also stated that those who have had family members diagnosed with colon cancer should get colonoscopy or screening at an earlier age.  Early detection is the best protection from such type of cancer.

As a reaction to the study, Dr. Pochapin said that taking of beta blockers do not guarantee that one will not develop colon cancer. He said that a change in lifestyle is a better option. Stopping the smoking habit and reduction of body weight should be made. Maintaining a healthily diet is also recommended to lessen the risk of colon cancer.