Channel blockers used to lower blood pressure might cause breast cancer.

A new study of nearly 3,000 postmenopausal women has found that blood pressure-lowering medication called calcium channel blockers may increase the risk of developing breast cancer.

The research team led by Dr. Christopher Li, of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, collected data on nearly 2,000 women with breast cancer who were between the ages of 55 and 74, and compared them to over 800 women without. They looked for any hypertension medication taken, the type of medication and for how long it was used.

The study, published in the JAMA Internal Medicine journal concluded that women who took calcium channel blockers for more than 10 years were 2.5 times more likely to develop breast cancer than those who didn’t take them.

Dr. Li explained that they investigated these specific drugs, because “people who use them to manage their blood pressure are usually on them for the rest of their lives,” adding that “there has been some evidence suggesting that some of these antihypertensives may be related to breast cancer risk.”

According to the research, hypertension drugs are the most commonly prescribed type of medication in the U.S. with channel blockers alone accounting for 98 million prescriptions filled in 2010.

Li added the proviso that the study shows an association between calcium channel blockers and breast cancer, not proof that they cause it. Moreover, the research needs to be repeated before women are encouraged to change their medication or before doctors are recommended to stop prescribing them. The reason for the association with channel is not clear.

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