Harvard Women's Health Watch

Long-term use of some blood pressure medicines is linked to breast cancer risk

Taking a calcium-channel blocker for several years to treat high blood pressure might put women at higher risk for breast cancer, according to a study published online August 5 in JAMA Internal Medicine. The study included more than 2,700 women, ages 55 to 74—880 of them had invasive ductal breast cancer (the most common type of breast cancer, which begins in the milk ducts) and 1,027 had invasive lobular breast cancer (which starts in the milk-producing glands). The other 856 women did not have cancer. Women who took calcium-channel blockers for 10 years or more had more than double the odds of getting either type of breast cancer. Every drug in this class had the same effect. However, taking shorter durations of calcium-channel blockers or other types of blood pressure medicine didn't appear to affect breast cancer risk. The authors say this one observational study—which can't prove that calcium-channel blockers directly affect breast cancer risk—isn't confirmation enough to cause women to stop taking these drugs, but it is an area that warrants further study.

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