New York: Certain drugs taken to improve heart health may also have anti-cancer properties, says a new study led by an Indian-origin scientist in the US.
A team led by Anil Sood from the University of Texas retrospectively analysed medical records of 1,425 women who were treated at different medical centres for ovarian cancer between 2000 and 2010.
The researchers noted that 193 of the women were taking beta blockers known as beta-1 adrenergic receptor (ADRB1) selective agents and 76 were receiving non-selective beta antagonists.
Beta blockers, which are drugs commonly used to treat hypertension and other heart-related conditions, affect the body's stress response and may therefore impact cancer progression, researchers said.
"We found that patients taking a broad, or non-selective, beta blocker were the ones who derived the most benefit compared with those who were not taking a beta blocker or those who were taking a beta-1-selective medication," said Sood.
The median survival time was 47.8 months for patients receiving any beta blocker versus 42 months for non-users.
Among those who took beta-blockers, the median survival time was 94.9 months for those receiving non-selective beta blockers versus 38 months for those receiving ADRB1 selective agents.
Patients with hypertension tended to have shorter survival times than patients without hypertension, but even among patients with hypertension, users of non-selective beta blockers had a longer median survival time than non-users (38.2 versus 90 months).
In an accompanying editorial, Kristen Bunch, from the Walter Reed National Military Medical Centre, and Christina Annunziata from the National Cancer Institute noted that despite the small number of patients who were taking non-selective beta blockers in this study, the investigators uncovered a dramatic survival advantage that warrants further analysis.
The study was published online in CANCER, a peer-reviewed journal of the American Cancer Society.