Beta blockers, other hypertension medications may play a role, Roswell Park researchers report
- Researchers analyzed data from several large international cancer studies
- Hypertension linked to better outcomes; diabetes, with poor survival
- Blood-pressure medications may drive this benefit, but further study needed
BUFFALO, N.Y. — Hypertension, or high blood pressure, may come with a plus side, at least for a subset of women with ovarian cancer. New research from epidemiologists at Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center, published in the journal Cancer Causes & Control, provides evidence that hypertension and diabetes and the use of medications to treat these common conditions may influence the survival of ovarian cancer patients — sometimes in a detrimental way, but in the case of hypertension medications, perhaps as a benefit.
Using pooled data from 15 studies that were part of the Ovarian Cancer Association Consortium, an international team of collaborators led by Kirsten Moysich, PhD, MS, and Albina Minlikeeva, PhD, MPH, retroactively examined the associations between survival among patients diagnosed with invasive epithelial ovarian cancer and those patients’ history of hypertension, heart disease, diabetes, and medications taken for those conditions.
They found that while a history of diabetes was associated with a 112% higher risk of mortality across more than 7,600 cases, no significant mortality associations were observed for hypertension or heart disease. In fact, the authors report, among women with endometrioid ovarian cancer, a subtype of epithelial ovarian cancer typically associated with better outcomes, hypertension — a condition that applied to nearly 26% of women in the pooled analysis — was associated with 46% lower risk of ovarian cancer progression.
“This is a coincidental and unintended consequence of hypertension and its treatment, but it’s a silver lining to a serious but largely manageable medical condition that has reached epidemic prevalence in the U.S. and many other countries worldwide,” says Dr. Moysich, Distinguished Professor of Oncology in the departments of Cancer Prevention and Control and Immunology at the Buffalo cancer center.
This study is the first to highlight the role of comorbidities in relation to ovarian cancer survival by histological subtype, and confirmed previous findings linking a history of diabetes to increased risk of death among ovarian cancer patients. It’s possible that commonly prescribed antihypertensive medications, including beta blockers, may influence the growth of ovarian tumors. But the team also documented a higher overall risk of death for patients who had ever taken beta blockers, and notes that further study is needed to better understand these processes and interactions.
“Our results suggest that it is important to investigate factors that explain the difference in cancer outcomes among women with different types of ovarian cancer. Most studies only consider clinical characteristics at diagnosis, such as stage and histology in relation to ovarian cancer prognosis,” adds Dr. Minlikeeva, a postdoctoral Research Affiliate with Roswell Park’s Department of Cancer Prevention and Control. “Our findings emphasize the importance of understanding the full clinical profile for women with ovarian cancer in order to predict ovarian cancer outcomes.”
Approximately 22,300 new cases of ovarian cancer are diagnosed each year in the U.S., with an estimated 14,200 women dying from the disease each year. Endometrioid carcinoma accounts for about 20% of all epithelial ovarian cancers.
The study, “History of hypertension, heart disease, and diabetes and ovarian cancer patient survival: evidence from the ovarian cancer association consortium,” is available at link.springer.com. This work was funded in part by grants and contracts from the National Cancer Institute (project nos. K07CA080668, K07CA095666, K22CA138563, N01CN55424 P30CA072720, P50CA105009, P50CA159981, R01CA074850, R01CA080742, R01CA095023, R01CA112523, R01CA126841, R01CA188900, R01CA54419, R01CA58598, R01CA61107, R01CA76016, R01CA87538, R25CA113951 and T32CA108456), National Library of Medicine (project no. K01LM012100), Division of Cancer Control and Population Sciences (project no. N01PC67001) and Roswell Park Alliance Foundation. A full list of funders is available in the Acknowledgments section at that link.
The mission of Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center is to understand, prevent and cure cancer. Founded in 1898, Roswell Park is one of the first cancer centers in the country to be named a National Cancer Institute-designated comprehensive cancer center and remains the only facility with this designation in Upstate New York. The Institute is a member of the prestigious National Comprehensive Cancer Network, an alliance of the nation’s leading cancer centers; maintains affiliate sites; and is a partner in national and international collaborative programs. For more information, visit www.roswellpark.org, call 1-877-ASK-Roswell Park (1-866-559-4838) or email AskRoswell@Roswellpark.org. Follow Roswell Park on Facebook and Twitter.
Annie Deck-Miller, Senior Media Relations Manager