It appears that a certain class of drugs (beta-blockers) used to control high blood pressure may also be helpful for people with some cancers, at least by slowing the progression of the disease.
How does this happen? It seems that earlier studies had shown that a couple of stress hormones – epinephrine and norepinephrine – bind to certain tumor cell receptors. When that happens, the cell is stimulated to produce vascular endothelial growth factor and two immune system interleukins. The result is an enhancement of blood supply to the tumor, thus promoting growth and metastasis.
But beta-blockers block the receptors, and hence inhibit effects of the hormones. Theoretically this should inhibit tumor development. In order to test this hypothesis, a large database of Danish cancer patient records was examined. It was found that melanoma patients who were also taking beta-blockers had their chances of surviving a specified number of years improved by 13%. Not a lot, but a benefit nevertheless. And the value of reducing effects from stress hormones was demonstrated. Perhaps other drugs may have larger effects. Lowering stress levels may help too.
Beta-blocker drugs, commonly used to treat high blood pressure, may also play a major role in slowing the progression of certain serious cancers, based on a new study.
A review of thousands of medical records in the Danish Cancer Registry showed that patients with the skin cancer melanoma, and who also were taking a specific beta-blocker, had much lower mortality rates than did patients not taking the drug.