Blood Pressure Meds And Breast Cancer

Could long-term use of some blood pressure drugs increase your risk of breast cancer?

Woman holding pills

A new study finds that using calcium-channel blocking blood pressure drugs could raise your risk for breast cancer.

The research, published in JAMA Internal Medicine, says that using the calcium-channel blockers such as Norvasc for more than a decade increases a woman's risk for developing breast cancer. It ups the risk 2.5 times, to be exact. Other blood pressure treatments used for a long period of time did not pose similar risks, the authors said.

The study is the first one to demonstrate that long-term use of the medications is linked to a higher breast cancer risk. According to Christopher Li, the lead author, more research is needed to better understand the association.

“While this is an intriguing finding, much more work still needs to be done,” said Li. “While we appreciate that these results may cause concern for women currently using these medications, we do not think that they should change current clinical practice because they require confirmation and because of the importance of managing hypertension effectively.”

Just how popular are these types of medications? In 2010, 98 million out of the 678 million blood pressure prescriptions were for calcium-channel blockers.

"If this finding is replicated, then there needs to be a serious discussion about long-term use of calcium-channel blockers," said Patricia Coogan, a research professor at the Slone Epidemiology Center at Boston University, who wrote an editorial on the study.

Norvasc, which is made by Pfizer, is available as a generic prescription in the U.S.

In related news, a new study finds that those who monitor their blood pressure on their own had lower numbers than those who do not.

More information on blood pressure

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Signs of high blood pressure and treatment options

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