Hypertension and pre-hypertension are serious public health concerns in the United States, with 2 out of every 3 adults affected by one of the two conditions(1). Risk for high blood pressure increases as you age, and post-menopausal women are at particular risk.
Keep on reading if you’re taking calcium channel blockers (CCBs).
Study Explores The Links
A 2013 study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, or JAMA, has theorized that CCBs may actually cause breast cancer in some women. The exhaustive study, which followed more than 1700 women between the ages of 55 and 74, included a cancer-free control group, and two other groups of women – one group with invasive lobular cancer and one group with invasive ductal breast cancer.
Researchers conducted extensive interviews with all participants about their medical histories, and what they found was surprising. Women who had been taking CCBs to treat high blood pressure for an extended period of time – ten years or more – were 2.5 times more likely to develop breast cancer than women who didn’t.
Although the study was correlative, researchers feel that the evidence against CCB’s is compelling. “While some studies have suggested a positive association between calcium-channel blocker use and breast cancer risk, this is the first study to observe that long-term current use of calcium-channel blockers in particular are associated with breast cancer risk,” the study concludes(2).
Millions Of Women At Risk
Studies have hypothesized about the connection between anti-hypertensive drugs and certain types of cancer for years, dating back to the mid 1990’s. However, millions of people are still being prescribed these drugs each day, and most people stay on them for extended periods of time, if not for life.
For many people, anti-hypertensive drugs can be life saving, and no one should consider quitting any medication cold turkey without a doctor’s supervision, especially a medication they’ve been taking for a long time.
There are natural, more holistic ways to help manage blood pressure in addition to medication – including diet(3), exercise(4), getting enough sleep(5), and even practising meditation techniques(6).
Time For A Change
A holistic approach to health and healing is often missing from more conventional Western medicine – something that researchers are increasingly coming to understand and critique. Perhaps as we learn more about the long-term effects of blood pressure medications, we’ll see a shift in the way healthcare practitioners take on issues like hypertension and pre-hypertension.
Until then, it’s up to patients to raise the issue with their doctors, and live a healthy and active lifestyle in order to keep their blood pressure under control.
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