Hypertension drug does not increase breast cancer risk for women over 55

July 23, 2012, University of Dundee

(Medical Xpress) -- A commonly prescribed medicine used to treat conditions such as heart failure and hypertension does not present women over 55 with any increased risk of breast cancer, a new study at the University of Dundee has shown.

Many breast cancers are (oestrogen) dependent. The medicine, , blocks () and increases the relative effects of . As such, spironolactone can cause painful breast enlargement by altering the balance of male to female hormonal effects allowing the female effects to predominate.

This led to fears that this mechanism might increase hormone-dependent breast cancer in women, something researchers in the School of Medicine at Dundee has disproved in the case of women over the age of 55. They looked at data held in the General Practice Research Database (GPDR) relating to women over the age of 55 who had no history of breast cancer.

By examining anonymized medical records they were able to compare how many of the 28,000 women who had received spironolactone treatment went on to develop breast cancer with 56,000 women who had not been administered the drug. They found no association between exposure to spironolactone and the risk of breast cancer.

Use of spironolactone has increased greatly in recent years and is expected to rise further following changes in guidelines on hypertension treatment from the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE).

"Recent UK blood pressure guidelines recommend the use of spironolactone for patients with difficult-to-treat hypertension, meaning increasing numbers of people are being treated with it," explained Dr. Isla Mackenzie, Clinical Senior Lecturer and Honorary Consultant in at the University.

"This is a drug that has hormonal effects and can lead to swelling in the breasts as a side effect, and so this is why it was important to determine whether or not it led to an increased risk of breast cancer. What our study showed is that, in women over 55, there was no increased risk at all for women who have been treated with spironolactone.

"By looking at a large number of patients we were able to determine that there was no for women in this age group. This is important because the drug has become much more commonly used in recent years, and is now being given to a lot of women.

"With the numbers of women in this group receiving spironolactone set to increase further, it was important to obtain reassurance that the risk of breast cancer was not raised, which our research has indeed shown."

Breast cancer is the most common cancer in women in the UK. About 46,000 women get breast cancer in the UK each year. Most of them (8 out of 10) are over 50, but younger , and in rare cases men, can also get .

The research, which appears in the latest edition of the British Medical Journal, was carried out through examining anonymised data from the GPRD.

The GPRD, managed by the Secretary of State for Health, United Kingdom (UK) contains over 3 million active patient records drawn from approximately 400 primary care practices in the UK. The Medicine Control Agency manages the GRPD. The GPRD is the world's largest database of anonymised longitudinal primary care medical records.

The database has clinical and prescription data and can provide information to support pharmacovigilance (indication, utilisation, and risk/benefit profiles of drugs) and formal pharmacoepidemiologic studies, including information on demographics, medical symptoms, therapy (medicines, vaccines, devices), and treatment outcomes.

Explore further: Male breast cancer patients stop taking tamoxifen early because of drug-related side effects

Related Stories

Male breast cancer patients stop taking tamoxifen early because of drug-related side effects

November 16, 2011
The largest study to investigate the tolerability of the breast cancer drug tamoxifen in male breast cancer patients has shown that men stop taking their prescribed therapy early because of problems with side effects caused ...

Breast cancer type linked to paternal cancer

November 28, 2011
The risk of breast cancer is increased by genetic and lifestyle factors such as the inherited BRCA2 gene, age of having first child, or use of hormone replacement therapy (HRT). New research published in BioMed Central's ...

Elevated hormone levels add up to increased breast cancer risk

October 21, 2011
Post-menopausal women with high levels of hormones such as estrogen or testosterone are known to have a higher risk of breast cancer. New research published in BioMed Central's open access journal Breast Cancer Research looked ...

Childbearing may increase risk of hormone receptor-negative breast cancer in African-American women

August 16, 2011
African-American women are at higher risk for hormone receptor-negative breast cancer, one of the most difficult subtypes to treat, but this risk could be ameliorated somewhat by breast-feeding their children.

Heart disease beats breast cancer as the biggest killer

June 19, 2011
Breast cancer accounts for almost a third of all cancer cases reported in women. However advances in the treatment for breast cancer, and early detection, have improved the chances of survival from the disease. New research ...

Recommended for you

In most surgery patients, length of opioid prescription, number of refills spell highest risk for misuse

January 17, 2018
The possible link between physicians' opioid prescription patterns and subsequent abuse has occupied the attention of a nation in the throes of an opioid crisis looking for ways to stem what experts have dubbed an epidemic. ...

Patients receive most opioids at the doctor's office, not the ER

January 16, 2018
Around the country, state legislatures and hospitals have tightened emergency room prescribing guidelines for opioids to curb the addiction epidemic, but a new USC study shows that approach diverts attention from the main ...

FDA bans use of opioid-containing cough meds by kids

January 12, 2018
(HealthDay)—Trying to put a dent in the ongoing opioid addiction crisis, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration on Thursday slapped strict new restrictions on the use of opioid-containing cold and cough products by kids.

Taking ibuprofen for long periods found to alter human testicular physiology

January 9, 2018
A team of researchers from Denmark and France has found that taking regular doses of the pain reliever ibuprofen over a long period of time can lead to a disorder in men called compensated hypogonadism. In their paper published ...

Nearly one-third of Canadians have used opioids: study

January 9, 2018
Nearly one in three Canadians (29 percent) have used "some form of opioids" in the past five years, according to data released Tuesday as widespread fentanyl overdoses continue to kill.

Growing opioid epidemic forcing more children into foster care

January 8, 2018
The opioid epidemic has become so severe it's considered a national public health emergency. Addiction to prescription painkillers, such as oxycodone and morphine, has contributed to a dramatic rise in overdose deaths and ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.