Harvard Heart Letter

No connection between ARBs and cancer

In 2010, a controversial analysis suggested that angiotensin-receptor blockers (ARBs) increased the risk of developing cancer, especially lung cancer. Not so, says an FDA safety alert issued in June 2011.

ARBs are widely used to treat high blood pressure. They include azilsartan medoxomil (Edarbi), candesartan (Atacand), eprosartan (Teveten), irbesartan (Avapro), losartan (Cozaar, generic), olmesartan (Benicar), telmisartan (Micardis), and valsartan (Diovan). Several combination drugs include an ARB plus a diuretic or a calcium-channel blocker.

The FDA analyzed data from 31 ARB trials with a total of 156,000 participants. It found "no evidence of an increased risk of incident (new) cancer, cancer-related death, breast cancer, lung cancer, or prostate cancer in patients receiving ARBs." The cancer rate was 1.84 per 100 participants per year among those taking a placebo and 1.82 per 100 participants per year among those taking an ARB.

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