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Do Women Taking Blood Pressure Medicine Have Higher Breast Cancer Risk?

Published August 18, 2013 by Scott Gottlieb, Injury Law Attorney
Breast cancer

Medical malpractice in New York and nationally kills up to 100,000 people each year, according to the American Association for Justice.

Many of these deaths are the result of medication errors and faulty drugs.

A new study suggests that women who are long-term users of a common blood pressure drug are more than twice as likely to be diagnosed with breast cancer as those not on the medication.

The drugs – known as calcium channel blockers – are widely used and frequently prescribed. Close to 98 million prescriptions were filled in the U.S. in 2010, the researchers said. Once prescribed, people often take calcium channel blockers for the rest of their lives.

Researchers cautioned that their findings, which were published in JAMA Internal Medicine, are preliminary and do not necessarily warrant a change in any patient’s prescription.

“The most important thing is to have people manage their hypertension the best they can,” the lead scientist told Reuters Health.

Different Drugs for Treating High Blood Pressure

People with high blood pressure often have to try multiple drugs at different doses to find the treatment regimen that works best for them, according to the article. Those drugs include amlodipine (marketed as Norvasc), nicardipine (marketed as Cardene) and many others.

Here is more from Reuters Health:

[Researchers] looked specifically at the two most common types of invasive breast cancer – ductal and lobular – distinguished by whether the cancer starts in a milk duct or milk-producing gland.

Their study included 905 women age 55 to 74 who were diagnosed with ductal breast cancer between 2000 and 2008, 1,055 women diagnosed with lobular breast cancer and 891 women without cancer who served as a comparison group. Close to 40 percent of participants in each group took medication for high blood pressure.

Twenty-five women with ductal breast cancer and 26 with lobular breast cancer had been using the drugs for 10 years or longer, compared to 11 cancer-free women. That worked out to a 2.4- to 2.6-fold higher risk of cancer with long-term use of calcium channel blockers.

[N]o other hypertension drugs, including diuretics and beta blockers, were tied to breast cancer.

Calcium channel blockers have been around a long time. Many women have taken them for a decade or more.

“If other large studies … start finding the same thing, then a serious discussion needs to take place,” one expert told Reuters Health.

But for now, it is recommended that women who have gotten their blood pressure under control with calcium channel blockers shouldn’t stop taking them or be overly concerned about a heightened risk of breast cancer.

Do you think you have been harmed by a defective drug or faulty prescription? Get a free case review from a New York injury lawyer.


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