Sunday, June 20, 2010

Blood Pressure Medications Cause Increased Cancer Risk

In my book, Drugs That Don’t Work and Natural Therapies That Do, I wrote, “You can’t poison a crucial enzyme or block an important receptor for the long-term and expect a good result.”  This statement has led many to criticize me.  However, as more and more research comes out about the toxicity of drugs I am more confident than ever that this statement is true.
The headline blared, “Popular blood pressure pills linked to cancer.” [i]   The headline referred to an important article in Lancet Oncology that found patients who took the popular angiotensin-receptor blockers--ARB inhibitors-- (e.g., Cozaar, Atacand, Micardis,) had a one percent higher risk of getting cancer as compared to patients not taking the drugs.  Increases in cancers of the prostate, breast, and lung cancer were noted.  There was no long-term study with these drugs.  This study looked at the results of five studies that included 68,402 patients.
In the U.S., cancer is the second leading cause of death.   The authors of this study estimated that one extra cause of cancer will occur for every 105 patients taking the ARB inhibitors for about four years.  But, patients generally take these drugs for much longer than four years.  What is the risk of ARB inhibitors causing cancer in patients who take the medications for 10 years? Or 20 years?  No one knows the answer.  Furthermore, this class of drugs is taken daily by millions of Americans.  If the study is true, the cancer numbers will be staggering.
Hypertension is not a drug deficiency syndrome.  It is a sign of a problem in the body.  When hypertension is diagnosed, a thorough workup needs to be performed before a patient is reflexively placed on long-term ARB inhibitors (or any other hypertensive medication).
What causes hypertension?  That is a difficult question.  The body elevates blood pressure to preserve perfusion to vital organs and tissues.  Obesity and poor lifestyle choices (e.g., smoking and poor dietary habits) are the main cause of hypertension.  Simply adopting a healthier lifestyle can help nearly anyone improve their blood pressure. 
Do blood pressure medications have a place?  Are there appropriate times for using an antihypertensive medication?  The answer to both of these questions is ‘yes’.  Severely elevated blood pressure can cause serious adverse effects such as a stroke or heart attack.  Antihypertensive medications can prevent these complications.  However, my experience has shown a large percentage of patients treated for hypertension with antihypertensive medications can stop taking the medications if they make better lifestyle choices.  I see it occur on a daily basis in my office.  Furthermore, there are specific vitamin, mineral, and herbal remedies that can keep blood pressure from elevating to critical levels.
This study is another warning on the long-term use of prescription medications that block receptors and poison enzymes.  Natural therapies such as magnesium, unrefined sea salt, B-vitamins, vitamin C and cleaning up the diet of refined foods should be the initial treatment regimen in a patient with elevated blood pressure.  Finally, drink enough water.  In my experience, dehydration is the number one cause of elevated blood pressure.



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