A meta-analysis involving over 260,000 participants from 33 randomised controlled trials has sought to resolve the long-debated issue about whether using antihypertensive medication heightens the chance of developing cancer.
It found no compelling evidence that the use of any antihypertensive drug class had a significant effect on the risk of cancer when compared with placebo.
In the largest of such an investigation to date, researchers from the Oxford Martin Programme on Deep Medicine investigated five antihypertensive drug classes: angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors, angiotensin II receptor blockers (ARBs), beta blockers, calcium channel blockers (CCBs), and diuretics.
The investigators estimated the effect of each drug class on the risk of developing any type of cancer, of dying from cancer, and of developing breast, colorectal, lung, prostate and skin cancers. They also examined whether there were any differences according to age, sex, body size, smoking status and previous antihypertensive medication use before taking part in the trial.
During an average of four years, around 15,000 individuals in these trials were diagnosed with cancer. The researchers found no evidence that the use of any antihypertensive drug class increased the risk of cancer. This finding was consistent regardless of age, gender, body size, smoking status and previous antihypertensive medication use. However, the effects of CCBs require further investigation.
Emma Copland, study lead and epidemiologist at the University of Oxford commented, “Our results should reassure the public about the safety of antihypertensive drugs with respect to cancer, which is of paramount importance given their proven benefit for protecting against heart attacks and strokes.”
The study was led by Professor Kazem Rahimi, Professor of Cardiovascular Medicine and Population Health, at the University of Oxford, and funded by The British Heart Foundation, National Institute for Health Research.