Blood pressure drugs don't increase the risk of cancer, according to the largest study to examine the issue.
A possible link between blood pressure drugs and cancer has been the subject of debate for decades, but evidence has been inconsistent and conflicting.
For this study, researchers analyzed data from 31 clinical trials of blood pressure drugs that involved 260,000 people. Investigators of all the trials provided information on which participants developed cancer. Much of this information hasn't been published before, so the new study is the most detailed to date.
It looked at five blood pressure drugs separately: angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors, angiotensin II receptor blockers (ARBs), beta blockers, calcium channel blockers (CCBs), and diuretics.
The researchers estimated the effect of each drug class on the risk of developing any type of cancer, of dying from cancer, and of developing breast, colon, lung, prostate and skin cancers.
The study found no evidence that any of the drug classes increased cancer risk. That was true regardless of participants' age, gender, body size, smoking status and previous use of blood pressure medication, according to findings presented recently at an online meeting of the European Society of Cardiology.
Research presented at meetings is typically considered preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed journal.
There was no indication that cancer risk rose with longer use of blood pressure drugs.
"Our results should reassure the public about the safety of antihypertensive drugs with respect to cancer, which is of paramount importance given their proven benefit for protecting against heart attacks and strokes," said study author Emma Copland, an epidemiologist at the University of Oxford in the U.K.