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Are Blood Pressure Pills Linked to Breast Cancer?

A new study published in JAMA Internal Medicine suggests an association between calcium-channel blockers used to treat high blood pressure and two types of breast cancer. Previous epidemiological studies have hinted at a relationship, so the researchers used data from a cancer registry that covers the counties around Seattle, Washington. They found that women who had used antihypertensives such as amlodipine, felodipine or verapamil for at least a decade had more than double the likelihood of being diagnosed with invasive ductal or lobular breast cancer.

This study was not designed to tell if the connection is causal. And the investigators caution that women should not panic and stop taking their blood pressure pills. But women with other risk factors for breast cancer should discuss this study with their physicians, since the type of medicine taken for hypertension can often be changed. Other classes of blood pressure medication showed no association with breast cancer.

[JAMA Internal Medicine, online Aug. 5, 2013]

 To learn about various types of blood pressure medication, you may wish to consult our Guide to Blood Pressure Treatment.

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About the Author
Terry Graedon, PhD, is a medical anthropologist and co-host of The People’s Pharmacy radio show, co-author of The People’s Pharmacy syndicated newspaper columns and numerous books, and co-founder of The People’s Pharmacy website. Terry taught in the Duke University School of Nursing and was an adjunct assistant professor in the Department of Anthropology. She is a Fellow of the Society of Applied Anthropology. Terry is one of the country's leading authorities on the science behind folk remedies..
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