A recent research suggests that ovarian cancer patients who take a certain type of blood pressure medications are more likely to live longer than their peers who do not take such drugs.
The study which involved nearly 1,500 cancer patients found that ovarian cancer patients who took beta blockers to rein in their high blood pressure were able to survive up to eight years after their first diagnosis, while women who didn’t take the drugs usually died after just three years.
The most visible positive outcomes were observed in women that used “non-selective” beta blockers, researchers noted. Nevertheless, the team acknowledged that their findings found only a link between the drugs and higher survivability rate in cancer patients. They weren’t able to find a cause-and-effect relationship.
A paper on the findings was published Monday in the journal Cancer.
During the study, doctors assessed patients’ overall health and looked for particular medications they were taking besides the cancer treatment. Scientists said that women who survived longer may have come to this result due to other factors not just the anti-high blood pressure medication.
To see if those beta blockers are indeed efficient in stalling tumor growth, researchers would need to perform a clinical trial first and have a control group that doesn’t take the medication.
“You need to be very cautious about retrospective data like this. We still need clinical trials,”
stated Dr. Anil Sood, one of the researchers involved in the study.
Moreover, health care providers need to learn whether beta blockers are safe for ovarian cancer patients because patients who do not have a high blood pressure may be affected by severe complications when taking those drugs.
Fortunately, there are two clinical trials that are trying to solve that mystery. When they are completed, doctors will know whether the drugs are safe to cancer patients who are also undergoing chemotherapy.
But if the results of the trials are positive, researchers will need to learn what doses are safe, and what patients could benefit most from the drugs.
The American Cancer Society reported that ovarian cancer is one of the deadliest forms of cancer in the U.S. because it is rarely diagnosed in early stages. Women who are eventually diagnosed are able to live five more years on average after the first diagnosis.
Beta blockers are currently used in treating high blood pressure and certain types of cardiovascular diseases. Researchers believe that the blood pressure drug lowers levels of a ‘stress’ hormone also known as adrenaline. Adrenaline is known to fuel the growth of cancerous tumors.
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