Long-term use of a class of antihypertensive drugs known as calcium-channel blockers may be putting post menopausal women at greater risk for developing breast cancer, according to a new study by a team of Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center scientists led by Christopher Li, M.D., Ph.D.
The study’s key finding from their study of 1,763 women between the ages of 55-74 was that women currently taking calcium-channel blockers who have used them for 10 years or longer had an approximately two and a half times higher risk of breast cancer compared to those who never used such calcium-channel blockers and compared to users of other forms of antihypertensives.
The good news is that the study found that use of other classes of antihypertensive drugs, including diuretics, beta blockers and angiotensin-receptor blockers, were not associated with an increased risk of breast cancer, even when used long term.
Cause for concern?
Hypertension drugs are one of the most frequently prescribed type of medications and part of the problem is that as it is regarded as a chronic condition, most people with high blood pressure will often stay on the same medication for long periods of time. Calcium-channel blockers function by regulating the influx of calcium into muscle cells, decreasing arterial resistance and heart muscle oxygen demand. Some hypothesize that these drugs may increase cancer risk because they inhibit programmed cell death, or apoptosis, but supporting evidence is lacking.
However, there is now increasing availability of alternative options to manage hypertension and self management is a large part of that. Dr Andrew Weil in particular has emphasized the important role of diet, nutrition and exercise and you will find his article in the list below.
In older women oestrogen dominance and weight gain are the major cause of hypertension and this can result from hormone imbalance with insufficient progesterone present to balance the excess oestrogen. Oestrogen adversely affect cells membranes resulting in sodium and water influx into cells (causing water retention) and loss of potassium and magnesium.
Supplementing with bioidentical natural progesterone helps rebalance hormones and reduce weight as its function as a diuretic means that excess water is excreted and the blood pressure is able to returns to normal.
Although not specifically contraindicated, if you are already taking diuretics or other anti-hypertensive drugs and using Progesterone, it is wise to monitor your blood pressure and discuss your dosage need for such drugs with your doctor in order to prevent low blood pressure.