Blood pressure drugs not linked to cancer risk, says FDA

A type of blood pressure-lowering medication known as angiotensin receptor blockers won’t increase a patient’s risk for cancer, the Food and Drug Administration said this week. So those taking the drugs for high blood pressure can just…relax.

Concern about the drugs’ possible link to cancer risk arose last year after an analysis of several studies suggested that angiotensin receptor blockers, or ARBs, might be associated with a slightly increased risk of cancer.

But the FDA’s own research found no such connection, the agency said in an announcement Thursday:

“This analysis included 31 trials and approximately 156,000 patients, far more than the approximately 62,000 in the published analysis. FDA’s more comprehensive meta-analysis did not show an increased risk of cancer in the patients taking an ARB medication.”


Such medications include: losartan (Cozaar), olmesartan (Benicar) and valsartan (Diovan). The drugs lower blood pressure by blocking the effects of angiotensin II, a chemical that narrows vessels.

There are other ways to lower blood pressure. Beta blockers, ACE inhibitors, calcium channel blockers and renin inhibitors all lower pressure through different mechanisms, according to a blood pressure guide from the Mayo Clinic.

Of course, lifestyle changes can sometimes obviate the need for blood pressure-lowering drugs. Not smoking, eating a low-sodium diet, exercising regularly and limiting alcohol can all help control blood pressure -- and there was never any concern about their cancer risk.

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