Wednesday, June 7, 2023

UVA Researchers Link Blood-Pressure Drugs to Improved Survival of Colorectal Cancer

Scientists with UVA Health have found a link between blood pressure medication and increased survival of colorectal cancer. (Unsplash/Laurynas Mereckas)

CHARLOTTESVILLE — Researchers at the University of Virginia’s Department of Public Health Sciences are starting to see a link between common blood pressure drugs and an improved survival for patients with colorectal cancer, according to a press release from UVA Health.

In a study of more than 14,000 patients, scientists at UVA found that ACE inhibitors, beta blockers and thiazide diuretics were all associated with a decreased mortality. They also saw an even better chance of  survival with people who consistently took their blood pressure medication.

“Cost-effective solutions to prolong cancer survivorship in older patients may lie in commonly used medications,” said researcher Dr. Rajesh Balkrishnan, of UVA’s Department of Public Health Sciences. “However, we need further confirmation of these findings through clinical trials.”

The American Cancer Society estimates that this more than 100,000 cases of colon cancer and more than 45,000 cases of rectal cancer will be diagnosed in 2021. Very notably, colon cancer killed actor Chadwick Boseman, best known for his portrayal of superhero Black Panther, in August of 2020 at the age of 43.  Colorectal cancer is the third most commonly diagnosed form of cancer in the United States.

The numbers among younger people are rising at such a rate that the U.S. Preventative Servicers Task Force reduced the recommended age for screenings from 50 to 45.

High blood pressure has long been a common trait among those diagnosed with colorectal cancer, but there has been little research into the potential impact of a blood pressure medication’s effect on the cancer.

While researchers concede that they are unsure whether apparent benefits from the blood-pressure drugs stem from the drugs themselves or from controlling patients’ high blood pressure. According to the press release, they are eager to pursue both possibilities.

For more information, check out the findings Dr. Balkrishnan and the UVA research team published in the scientific journal Cancer Medicine.

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