Blood pressure medication does not influence cancer risk

May 2021 Cancertrials Tobias Rawson

A large meta-analysis, presented at the Virtual 2021 Joint Meeting of the European Society of Hypertension (ESH) and the International Society of Hypertension (ISH), has concluded that blood pressure medication does not appear to either increase or decrease the risk of developing cancer.

No correlation between cancer risk and blood pressure medication over time

The analysis identified 41 randomised control trials, drawing data from a combined 312,280 patients. Of this cohort, 143,847 received blood pressure-lowering medication. 8,047 of these patients developed cancer, compared to 9,820 patients in the control group, which consisted of 168,433 patients (hazard ratio (HR)[95%CI]: 1.02[0.99-1.05]). Cancer resulted in death in 2,192 and 2,671 patients in the blood pressure medication and control cohorts, respectively (HR[95%CI]: 1.04[0.98-1.11]). However, no conclusion could be drawn if there was a true increased risk of lung and skin cancers, due to an insufficient amount of evidence. A total of 1,073 cases of lung cancer were documented in the medication group, compared to 1,169 cases in the control arm (HR[95%CI]: 1.18[1.08-1.29]). Similarly for skin cancers, there were 574 cases in the medication group, compared to 973 in the control arm (HR[95%]: 1.29[1.00-1.67]).  

“Overall, we found that BP-lowering was not associated with an increased or decreased risk in any of the outcomes, expect for lung and skin cancers” says Dr. Emma Copland, University of Oxford, United Kingdom. 

The research team also found no correlation between cancer risk and blood pressure medication over time. “We did this because if there is any true harmful effect of blood pressure-lowering on cancers, we would expect the risk of cancer to increase over time with longer exposure to the blood pressure-lowering treatment”, explains Dr. Copland. “But based on these analyses, there was no significant trend for increasing or decreasing risk of any cancer or cancer death with long follow-up duration. The results from this study are broadly reassuring about the safety of blood-pressure lowering with respect to overall cancer risk, although there was also no evidence that BP-lowering has a protective effect against cancer,”


Copland E et al., Effects of blood pressure-lowering on cancer risk: an individual participant data meta-analysis of 300,000 participants. J of Hypertension. 2021. 39: 7.