Calcium channel blockers have been around for decades – they are very effective and very safe. But a new report raises a concern about a possible link to breast cancer.
Researchers in the Journal of the American Medical Association- Internal Medicine- say women who use calcium channel blockers may have more than double the risk of breast cancer compared to women who use other drugs or do not take any medicine for high blood pressure.
They do not know why calcium blockers may make cells more prone to turning cancerous in breast tissue.
This isn’t the first the link has been seen– earlier studies date back to the 1990’s. This particular research followed about 3000 women.
What are calcium blockers?
The most common calcium channels blocker we prescribe are generics and include:
The brand names of these drugs include Norvasc, Cardizem, Dilacor, DynaCirc, Calan,and Procardia.
So, here are a couple of thoughts on this study:
Taking these medicines do not mean you’re automatically going to get breast cancer.
In fact, there still is no clear-cut proof that the medicines are to blame- in this study women with breast cancer were more likely to be on calcium blockers rather than other drugs. There was no clear cause and effect.
And finally, it seemed the risk didn’t really increase until a woman was on these medications for at least 10 years.
So what should you do?
Don’t panic and stop your medicines. Talk with your doctor. I don’t think this is going to cause a major change in prescribing– perhaps I might avoid it more in women with a strong family history of breast cancer… or maybe in women who are younger and might take the medicine for more than 10 years. But even then, these drugs may be the best choice .
In other words, one size doesn’t fit all… and one very general study doesn’t fit all. No need for panic. Just discussion.