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High pressure league expresses objections: a connection in lung cancer and hypertension drugs?


Benefits and risks of ACE inhibitors

A study was recently published that found a possible link between common high blood pressure medication and the development of lung cancer and caused a lot of uncertainty among hypertensive patients. The ACE inhibitors found in many blood pressure medicines are suspected of increasing the risk of developing lung cancer. German heart experts comment on the study results and explain the actual risk.

Professor Dr. Bernhard Krämer is chairman of the board of the German Hypertension League. He dealt with the study from the specialist journal "The BMJ" and commented on the informative value of the study and on the actual risks that drugs with ACE inhibitors pose. These are used in particular against high blood pressure and heart failure.

ACE inhibitors cause lung cancer?

Researchers at McGill University in Montreal recently found that widespread hypertension tablets can lead to lung cancer if they contain the substance group of the ACE inhibitors. The scientists concluded that patients who take such medicines are six percent more likely to develop lung cancer.

Do not jump to conclusions

"However, this is an observational study, the probative value of which is limited," write the specialists in the German Hypertension League. You are advised not to stop taking the medication without consulting your doctor. If necessary, patients should seek advice from their treating doctor about the individual benefits and risks of the medication. High blood pressure therapy must be continued in any case. The doctor may also prescribe other antihypertensive drugs if the uncertainty about a possible cancer risk is too high.

The study is not very meaningful

As the experts of the German Hypertension League report, the study is an observational study that can only show associations. Although it shows that there may be a connection between ACE inhibitors and lung cancer, it does not prove this. For this, a prospective randomized study had to be carried out, in which all possible interferences were excluded.

Lung cancer has numerous triggers

According to the heart experts, lung cancer is a so-called multifactorial disease. This means that there are many different factors that can favor the development. These factors primarily include smoking, pollutants in the air, dealing with carcinogenic substances such as asbestos, arsenic, chromium or nickel as well as a genetic predisposition. Obesity and excessive alcohol consumption can also increase the risk of developing cancer. In addition, increasing age and gender are a risk factor, since more than twice as many men as women develop lung cancer.

Criticism of the study results

Upon closer inspection of the study results, many experts from the German Heart Foundation found some discrepancies. For example, the group treated with ACE inhibitors had significantly more people with obesity. There was also a slightly increased proportion of smokers and people with alcohol problems in the ACE group. Furthermore, the average age in this group was almost three years higher than in the control group. "These differences could have influenced the results of the study and the higher risk of lung cancer in patients treated with ACE inhibitors," the experts conclude.

This possible connection must first be examined in more detail

"The evidential value of the present study is therefore rather low and the study authors themselves have requested further investigations," reports Professor Dr. Bernhard Krämer in a press release. ACE inhibitors have already shown in large, randomized, controlled trials that they can significantly reduce mortality from heart disease.

Expert advises: Do not take blood pressure medication yourself

"We hope that the result will not result in patients who are worried about cancer who will stop taking the blood pressure medication without consulting their doctor," emphasizes the professor. It could have serious consequences if patients simply omitted blood pressure medication. If left untreated, high blood pressure can lead to strokes, heart attacks, kidney failure or dementia. This could happen much earlier than a possible cancer. (vb)

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