Common Blood Pressure Pills Linked to Higher Risk of Lung Cancer: Study

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A new study has suggested that people who take angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors have an increased chance of developing lung cancer.

Millions of people take the drugs every day, according to reports, and as noted by the U.S. National Library of Medicine: ACE inhibitors “cause relaxation of blood vessels, as well as a decreased blood volume, which leads to lower blood pressure and decreased oxygen demand from the heart.” Namely, this group of drugs inhibits the angiotensin-converting enzyme and affects the production of hormones responsible for controlling blood pressure levels in the body.

The study, published in the medical journal, BMJ, showed that people who take ACE inhibitors have an overall 14 percent increase in the risk of developing lung cancer, Medscape reported.

“An analysis of primary care records of almost one million patients in the United Kingdom showed that as treatment with ACE inhibitors continued, the risk for lung cancer increased. For patients who took ACE inhibitors for 5 years, the risk for lung cancer increased by 22% compared to those who took ARBs. The increased risk for lung cancer peaked at 31% for patients who took ACE inhibitors for 10 years or longer,” wrote Medscape about the study.

But a specialist not involved with the study told HealthDay that patients taking ACE inhibitors should not fret because the benefits of the drugs outweigh the risk of contracting lung cancer.

“ACE inhibitors have been extensively studied in a multitude of large-scale, randomized clinical trials in very diverse patient populations,” said Dr. Gregg Fonarow, a professor of cardiology at the University of California in Los Angeles, according to the website.

“These findings should not raise concerns about the safety of ACE inhibitors,” Fonarow added.

“The silver lining of our findings is that while we found an association, the risk at the individual patient level is likely low, even after 10 years of use,” said lead researcher Laurent Azoulay, a professor of epidemiology McGill University in Montreal, according to HealthDay.

“For this reason, this should not deter patients from taking these drugs, should their physician deem the treatment appropriate,” he said.

Azoulay said that ACE inhibitors are effective at lowering blood pressure, but they may increase the chemicals in the body that are linked with lung cancer, HealthDay reported. Bradykinin and substance P have been discovered in the tissue of lung cancer, and bradykinin may promote the growth of lung cancer.

Lotensin (benazepril), Prinivil (lisinopril), and Altace (ramipril) are common ACE inhibitors.

“In an individual patient, any concerns about the risk of lung cancer should be balanced by the survival benefit associated with the use of ACE inhibitors,” said Cronin Fenton, who wrote in an article about the BMJ study.

Valsartan Update

This month, prices for two dosages of the blood pressure drug valsartan rose more than any other drug in the United States in September, following a massive recall of much of the drug’s supply (as seen in the top video), reported Reuters.

Chinese pharmaceutical ingredient manufacturer Zhejiang Huahai Pharmaceuticals recalled valsartan from consumers in the United States in July after finding traces of a probable carcinogen.

According to the National Average Drug Acquisition Cost (NADAC) survey for last month, prices for 160-milligram and 80-milligram tablets of the drug more than doubled last month from August rates.

Reuters contributed to this report.


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