Millions of people take blood pressure medicines called ACE inhibitors such as lisinopril. Many others use ARBs such as losartan or valsartan. Some previous studies hint that ACE inhibitors might increase your chance of lung cancer slightly. On the other hand, a new study suggests these pills could reduce your risk of colon cancer (Hypertension, July 6, 2020).
What Did the Researchers Find?
The research was conducted throughout the territory of Hong Kong and included people at least 40 years old. All of them had had a colonoscopy between 2005 and 2013. Importantly, none of them had colorectal cancer discovered during the colonoscopy.
The investigators used medical records to determine if any of the volunteers developed colorectal cancer. They followed up on 187,897 individuals after their colonoscopies. More than 30,000 of them, around 16 percent, were taking an ACE inhibitor or an ARB. In the subsequent six months to three years, 854 developed colorectal cancer. That was a smaller proportion than among people not using these blood pressure pills. The longer people had been taking their medicine, the lower their risk of colon cancer.
Do ACE Inhibitors and ARBs Reduce Risk of Colon Cancer?
This is an observational study, so it can’t establish a cause and effect relationship. However, it suggests that these drugs may reduce the risk of colorectal cancer, especially among people with a history of colon polyps. Previous research found that people taking lisinopril were less likely to develop dangerous colon polyps (Journal of Clinical Gastroenterology, Feb. 2011). This could help explain why ACE inhibitors are linked to a lower chance of of developing colorectal cancer.