Ask The Expert
October 07, 2010
The article raised concern about a possible association of new cancer diagnoses in people taking angiotensin receptor blockers. These include candesartan and telmisartan. The drug is prescribed to treat high blood pressure and heart failure.
The article combined data from many studies to evaluate the possible relationship between cancer and people taking these drugs. The finding, yet to be confirmed, was that there seemed to be an increase in new cancers, especially lung cancer, in people taking this class of drugs.
Much of the data compared people taking the drugs to those who were taking a placebo (a fake or sugar pill) or another type of blocker. Most of the studies included people who were taking telmisartan. And most of the new cancer data were from studies that used telmisartan, not candesartan.
As with any new study, we must take the research seriously, especially given the adverse effect -- in this case, an increase in cancer.
However, as with any new study, we must be cautious to not over-interpret the results. This new information was collected more or less in a random fashion. The goal of the original studies was not to look for a cancer connection. Researchers just found this possible link after the fact. This means we don't know key information about the people who developed cancer. Such factors would include a family history of cancer, whether they smoked or took drugs or alcohol, whether they were physically active, their body type, etc.
The problem with studies like this is that it may be years before we know whether the data is true or not.
My best advice is to talk to the doctor who prescribed your candesartan. If this is the only drug that is likely to work to treat your condition, I would continue taking it. If, however, there are other drugs (non angiotensin receptor blockers) that could work, I would consider a possible switch.