National News

Research into link between blood pressure pills and breast cancer

Australian researchers are investigating a controversial link between blood pressure medication and increased breast cancer risk.

A class of medication called calcium channel blockers has been linked to an increased risk of breast cancer in an American study.

"When you talk about a two-fold increase risk of an adverse event that's very significant," Professor Jeffery Hughes from Curtin University Medical School said.

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A class of medication called calcium channel blockers has been linked to an increased risk of breast cancer in an American study.

"Although since that time there have been other studies that have come out that have not demonstrated there is any increased risk."

For patients like Kellie Orchard, medication is essential in treating high blood pressure.

"I've had high blood pressure for approximately four years, it is hereditary," she said.

"And just carrying that extra weight means it puts me in that risk category."

Orchard wants to understand the risk of taking the medication like many other high blood pressure sufferers.

"We do want to know the full risks of anything we take so I think it's really important to know this information," Orchard said. 

However, Orchard is not alarmed by the link between the medication and the risk of breast cancer.

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Blood pressure

Australian researchers are now investigating this risk using three internationally recognised databases with two of them providing long-term information on Australian women's health.

"We're looking to evaluate the impact of prescribing patterns, we're hoping to look at social factors which might influence cancer as well," Hughes said.

The team was recently awarded $1 million of federal government funding to research whether calcium channel blockers increase the risk of breast cancer.

The researchers will also analyse the effects of different types of calcium channel blockers.

"What's interesting is that the literature suggests that short-acting calcium channel blockers like nifedipine and felodipine may pose a greater risk than longer-acting drugs which we use in contemporary practice," Hughes said.

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Professor Jeffery Hughes from Curtin University Medical School is researching the link between blood pressure medication and breast cancer.

The Royal Australian College of GPs says the current body of evidence suggests there is no cause for concern and the benefits of taking the medications outweigh any potential/theoretical harms.

"Women taking calcium channel blockers should continue to do so as prescribed if they do have any reservations they should speak to their doctor about it," Hughes said.

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