News Friday September 23, 2011

Blood Pressure medication may slow cancer progression

Beta-blocker treatments, used to treat high blood pressure, could potentially lengthen the lives of melanoma patients by reducing certain cancer growths.

Researchers from Ohio State University’s Behavioural Medicine Research (IBMR) and the Comprehensive Cancer Centre in the United States compiled the results following a review of thousands of patients. This information was gathered using and in conjunction with the Danish Cancer Registry and focused on patients who had skin cancer but were also taking specific beta-blockers as well.

They found that those who were using the additional medication had a much lower percentage of mortality than the patients who had not used the blood pressure treatment. While not yet a clinical trial, the gathered information could possibly point toward a further aid for patients facing the disease.

“Among patients diagnosed with melanoma, those who were taking beta-blockers when their cancer was diagnosed experienced longer survival than those patients who weren't taking the drug,” said Stanley Lemeshow, previous partner of the colleagues in Denmark as well as professor at the College of Public Health at Ohio University. “Their chance of surviving for a specified number of years improved by 13 percent.”

In terms of other cancer patients, as in those not only afflicted with melanoma, the chances for increased lifespan increased by 19% overall.

Ron Glasser, professor of virology, immunology and medical genetics as well as director for the IBMR, also stressed the importance of these findings and the positive step forward it potentially heralded for cancer patients.

“This drug [beta-blockers] is relatively inexpensive. It isn't chemotherapy so you don't lose your hair or get sick. It doesn't kill the cancer cells, but it may slow the disease,” he said “[and] this would be adjunct therapy that could be provided in addition to the normal chemotherapy patients receive.”

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