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Certain Blood Pressure Drugs Linked to Increased Risk of Lung Cancer

Analysis by Dr. Joseph Mercola

ACE inhibitors (ACEIs), aka angiotensin converting enzyme inhibitor drugs, are often a first-line treatment for high blood pressure. But a new study shows that, effective as they are, one of the side effects of ACEIs — as compared to a different class of blood pressure drugs, angiotensin receptor blockers (ARBs) — is an increased risk of lung cancer.

Findings published in the BMJ show that this may be linked to a buildup of protein-like chemicals called bradykinin and substance P in the lungs. The substances not only have been found in lung cancer tissue, but may directly stimulate the growth of lung cancer, according to MedicalXpress.

When it comes to methods of controlling blood pressure, ACEIs work by inhibiting your body’s production of angiotensin, a hormone that causes the arteries to become narrow. The names of these medicines usually end in “-pril.” ARBs block the effects of angiotensin in the body, and prevent the blood vessels from narrowing. Most of these drugs have names that end in “-sartan.”

If you’re diagnosed with high blood pressure, you’re likely to receive a prescription for one or more high blood pressure medications, also known as antihypertensives. As illustrated by the featured article, there is a variety of high blood pressure medicines available, but each comes with its own set of side effects. For this reason, it’s always important to discuss the side effects with your doctor before you fill the prescription.

This is especially important as a recent announcement by the American Heart Association (AHA) concerning guidelines for diagnosis of high blood pressure could mean that nearly half of Americans may be classified with high blood pressure, and subsequently prescribed ACEIs or ARBs — even though previous studies had already pointed to the increased risk of cancer.

Unfortunately, with this new classification of “high” blood pressure your doctor may very well be induced to immediately prescribe a drug to lower it, despite the possible cancer side effects and in spite of the fact that health experts from the AHA and the American College of Cardiology agree that if you act to lower your pressure through diet, exercise and drug therapy, you immediately could drive your risk of heart attack and stroke lower.

If you’re interested in learning how you can address blood pressure issues without prescription drugs, I describe many choices to help optimize your blood pressure in my previous article, "Drug-Free Strategies to Lower Your Blood Pressure." These include dietary changes, exercise, optimizing your vitamin D and omega-3 status, consuming certain foods (such as beets and garlic) to help naturally lower your blood pressure, and more.

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