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No Link Between Blood Pressure Medicine and Breast Cancer

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Earlier research suggested that postmenopausal women who took calcium-channel blockers to treat high blood pressure for 10 years or more had a higher risk of breast cancer.

Now a very large study has found no link between calcium-channel blockers and breast cancer risk.

The study was presented on June 1, 2015 at the American Society of Clinical Oncology annual meeting. Read the abstract of “The long-term use of calcium channel blockers and the risk of breast cancer.”

Calcium-channel blockers are a common type of high blood pressure medicine. (Doctors call high blood pressure “hypertension.”) Medicines to treat high blood pressure are the most commonly prescribed types of medicines in the United States. In 2010, about 98 million prescriptions for calcium-channel blockers were filled. Other types of high blood pressure medicines are ACE inhibitors, beta blockers, and diuretics.

Because high blood pressure is a chronic condition -- meaning it lasts for a long time -- most people who take medicine to treat it take the medicine for a long time.

Earlier studies have looked for a possible link between high blood pressure medicines and breast cancer risk, but the studies were small and the results were mixed.

In this study, researchers compared the records of 107,337 women in the United Kingdom taking calcium-channel blockers and 165,815 women taking other types of high blood pressure medicine from 1995 to 2009.

The researchers found that there were 2.9 cases of breast cancer diagnosed per 1,000 women per year among women taking calcium-channel blockers and 3.1 cases of breast cancer diagnosed per 1,000 women per year among women taking other types of high blood pressure medicine.

So there was no link between calcium-channel blockers and breast cancer risk.

“We found that the long-term use of calcium-channel blockers is not associated with an increased risk of breast cancer,” said Sara Soldera, M.D., a medical oncology fellow at McGill University Health Center in Montreal, in an interview. “Our finding is that this is just null -- calcium-channel blockers do not reduce your risk of breast cancer or increase your risk. They have no impact.”

It’s important to know that many of the risk factors for high blood pressure, including:

  • being overweight
  • not getting enough exercise
  • smoking
  • drinking alcohol

are also risk factors for breast cancer.

If you take a calcium-channel blocker to control high blood pressure, the results of this study are reassuring. Still, for the health of your heart and your breasts, it makes sense to minimize the risk factors you can control, including:

  • eating a diet that’s low in processed foods and sugar
  • avoiding alcohol
  • maintaining a healthy weight
  • exercising daily
  • not smoking

You can learn much more about breast cancer risk and other steps you can take to minimize that risk in the Lower Your Risk section.

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