Increased Risk of Breast Cancer Recurrence With Common Drugs

May 9, 2011

High blood pressure is increasingly common with more and more people on lifelong medication to control it. However, we need to remember that the human body doesn’t exist in separate, unconnected parts and that if you take a drug directed at one particular organ or problem, it doesn’t mean that medication will only zero in on one symptom or function.

It can, and often will, impact other processes, cells and organs or even the immune system and a disturbing example of this is the connection that has just been made between widely prescribed drugs commonly used to control high blood pressure and heart failure in women and breast cancer.

According to a new study by researchers at UCLA’s Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center, ACE inhibitors and beta blockers (the most frequently prescribed drugs for high blood pressure and heart problems) appear to be linked with an increased risk of recurrence in women who have had breast cancer. Dr. Patricia Ganz, author of the study, used data from the Life After Cancer Epidemiology (LACE) study, which included patients diagnosed with early stage breast cancer, as the basis for the research. Her findings have led her to conclude that a much larger clinical database study is needed as she was both concerned and surprised at the negative effect of the ACE inhibitors on chances for breast cancer recurrence.

For me this confirms the belief that medicine needs to be dealing with the whole picture and not just looking at isolated conditions or symptoms. Many women will certainly need to be taking medication for high blood pressure if they have not managed to control it by other more natural means like diet and exercise but drugs never act in isolation.

Many years ago I was involved with the writing of a book called The Medicine Chest which looked at the interaction between prescription drugs, food and supplements and it was quite startling to me to realise the impact that so many drugs have well outside their original sphere of influence.

No woman who has experienced breast cancer ever wants to repeat the experience and therefore this research is a timely reminder that by taking care of your own health and asking questions about every medication you are prescribed you will improve your own chances for well-being and longevity.

A good doctor will always answer your questions about what contra indications come with the drug and if they do not — and you cannot change your doctor — then I’ve always found pharmacists to be extremely helpful and the Internet is always a backup research tool.

If you have had breast cancer and are taking medication for either heart problems or high blood pressure then please discuss this with your doctor, particularly if you are under any degree of stress. A study carried out in September 2010 concluded that chronic stress works as a “fertilizer” to feed breast cancer progression through inflammatory signaling, significantly spiking the spread of disease.

We know that inflammation appears to play an important role in breast cancer and different classes of drugs may influence different pathways of inflammation is so as well as adopting a healthier lifestyle dealing with stress is also a high priority.


Article by  


What do you think of this health article by ? Join the discussion...