A Heart Rx That Could Help Cancer Patients

Beta blockers may lead to prolonged survival among ovarian cancer patients

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD Beth Bolt, RPh

(RxWiki News) Beta blockers are a class of heart medications that treat high blood pressure. But for some patients, they may have other lifesaving benefits.

A new study found that beta blockers led to a longer survival time for ovarian cancer patients. These findings indicate that certain cancer patients may benefit from adding beta blockers to their treatment regimens.

In an accompanying editorial, Kristen Bunch, DO, of the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, and Christina Annunziata, MD, PhD, of the National Cancer Institute, wrote, "This study lays the groundwork for insightful investigation into repurposing cardiovascular medications to cancer therapeutics."

This study was led by Anil Sood, MD, of the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center.

Beta blockers are medicines that reduce blood pressure by affecting the body's stress response.

Broad beta blockers address multiple stress symptoms, whereas beta-1 selective blockers only address heartbeat issues.

Dr. Sood and team looked at patient records of 1425 women who were treated at several different medical centers for ovarian cancer. Of these patients, 193 were also taking beta-1 blockers and 76 were taking broad beta blockers.

The patients taking beta blockers lived an average of 5.8 months longer than patients those who didn’t take the drugs, with those taking broad beta blockers living the longest.

According to Dr. Sood and team, beta blockers may promote survival because stress hormones can encourage cancer cells to spread apart.

This study was published Aug. 24 in the journal Cancer.

The National Institutes of Health, the Ovarian Cancer Research Fund and several private grants funded this research.

One study author disclosed funding ties to Invyte Pharmaceuticals and Egen Pharmaceuticals.


Review Date: 
August 21, 2015
Last Updated:
August 31, 2015