Common blood pressure medications may reduce colorectal cancer risk

The use of angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors and angiotensin receptor blockers (ARBs) is associated with a lower risk of colorectal cancer, according to new findings published in Hypertension. The medications are typically prescribed for high blood pressure or heart failure.

Researchers explored data from nearly 188,000 patients who developed colorectal cancer six to 36 months following an index colonoscopy. All patients underwent their colonoscopies in Hong Kong from 2005 to 2013.

Overall, patients who took ACE inhibitors or ARBs had a 22%  lower risk of colorectal cancer in the 36 months following the colonoscopy.

“Our results provide new insights on a potential role of these medications for colorectal cancer prevention,” senior study author Wai K. Leung, MD, clinical professor of medicine at the University of Hong Kong, said in a prepared statement. “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.”

The benefits, Leung et al. noted, were only seen in patients who were 55 years old and older or had a history of colonic polyps.

The full Hypertension study is available here.