According to new research from an American Heart Association journal, medications commonly prescribed to treat high blood pressure may also reduce patients’ colorectal cancer risk.

Angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors (ACE-I) or angiotensin II receptor blocker (ARBs) are prescribed for conditions such as heart failure, high blood pressure, or heart disease. According to the study authors, physicians prescribe these medications to people with high blood pressure to relax and open blood vessels, thereby lowering blood pressure.

Based on this study, taking these medications may also reduce colorectal cancer risk, according to the authors.

“The roles of ACE inhibitors and ARBs on cancer development are controversial and, in some cases, study findings are conflicting,” said study author Wai K. Leung, MD, in a press release. “Results of previous studies have been limited by several factors including a small number of patients and data only on short-term follow-ups. Our results provide new insights on a potential role of these medications for colorectal cancer prevention.”

Leung added that this is the first study to show the potential beneficial effects of ACE inhibitors and ARBs on colorectal cancer development, based on a large group of patients who were colorectal cancer-free at the beginning of the study.

Researchers reviewed the health records of 187,897 adult patients in Hong Kong from 2005 to 2013, with a negative baseline colonoscopy for colorectal cancer. The results found that those who took hypertension medications, such as ACE-I or ARBs, had a 22% lower risk of developing colorectal cancer in the subsequent 3 years.

Further, the benefit of ACE-I and ARBs were seen in patients aged 55 years or older and those with a history of colon polyps, according to the press release. In addition, the benefit associated with the medications was limited to the first 3 years after the negative baseline colonoscopy.

“While ACE-I and ARBs are taken by patients with high blood pressure, heart failure and kidney diseases, the reduction in colorectal cancer risk may be an additional factor for physicians to consider when choosing anti-hypertensive medications,” Leung said in a press release.

The study authors noted that the results should be verified with a prospective randomized controlled study, which would actively follow patients to determine the potential benefits of these medications on colorectal cancer risk.

REFERENCE
Common hypertension medications may reduce colorectal cancer risk. American Heart Association. https://newsroom.heart.org/news/common-hypertension-medications-may-reduce-colorectal-cancer-risk#:~:text=The%20analysis%20found%20that%3A,history%20of%20colon%20polyps%3B%20and. Published July 6, 2020. Accessed July 15, 2020.