March 30, 2011

When high blood pressure
increases your risk of cancer

If you take drugs for high blood pressure, you probably already know that they increase your risk for sexual problems, kidney problems, and dizziness. But now a popular class of hypertension drugs called angiotensin-receptor blockers may cause an even bigger problem. New research suggests they can cause prostate, breast, and lung cancers.

The authors of the study said the increased risk is small, about 1%. But consider the millions of people worldwide taking them. And I predict this number will increase significantly in the coming years. Could the next case of cancer be you?

It's not clear what the mechanism is. But that's not real important. These chemicals block your body's normal functions. And for every action, there's a reaction. In this case, the chemicals alter your DNA in the nucleus of cell receptors. There's no way the manufacturer can know if altering this DNA function will alter DNA function in other ways or not. Now that we're seeing an association with cancer, it might turn off the gene controlling for programmed cell death (apoptosis). That's what causes wayward cells to spontaneously die. Perhaps it will turn on DNA sections that make enzymes to keep the cell immortal.

Consider this: Blood pressure pills lower your blood pressure. But with high blood pressure readings no higher than say 160, lowering blood pressure by force doesn't give you any benefit at all. It only lightens your wallet. On the other hand, your blood pressure might be higher because crucial cells in your body need greater oxygen delivery. And, in the case of stiff blood vessels, the only means your heart has to get more oxygen to them is to raise pressure. So, lowering the pressure will lower the oxygen delivery. Any wonder that you don't reduce heart attacks by lowering blood pressure? In fact, you can induce a heart attack by lowering blood pressure to "normal" in a very hypertensive patient.

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Otto Warburg won the Nobel Prize for his discovery that cancer arises in an oxygen-poor environment. Lowering blood pressure mechanically lowers your blood's ability to deliver oxygen. Is it any wonder researchers have connected these drugs to a higher risk of cancer? As I said earlier, I think this connection will increase in the years ahead. Here's why:

It takes years of oxygen deprivation to get cells to degenerate to cancer. We've only been in the Pharma experimental cage for a few years with most of its potions. And no one has looked at the all-cause morbidity (injury) and mortality of groups taking these drugs to see if they really do more good than harm. I'll whisper the answer to you. They don't!

If you're taking any of the following angiotensin-receptor blocker drugs — Atacand, Teveten, Avapro, Micardis, Diovan, Cozaar and Benicar — please ask your physician about switching to a different type of hypertension drug. Then see an integrative physician to find out about weaning you off of these drugs and onto a better alternative. WARNING: Do not just stop taking your blood pressure drugs. This could kill you or cause serious damage.

Ref: Cheng, Maria, Associated Press; Lancet Oncology.

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