Beta blockers such as atenolol, metoprolol and propranolol have been used for decades to help control heart rhythm abnormalities and high blood pressure. A new study suggests that these inexpensive generic drugs may also improve survival for people diagnosed with melanoma. This skin cancer is the most dangerous and claims many lives each year.
The investigators analyzed Danish health records and discovered that patients taking beta blockers for hypertension or heart problems lived longer than melanoma patients not on such medications. These scientists predicted there might be a benefit based on their tissue-culture studies showing that beta blockers have anti-tumor effects on melanoma and other cancer cell lines.
[Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention, online, Sept. 20, 2011]