Beta blockers may reduce breast cancer spread

Updated: Mar 28, 2010, 00:00 AM IST

London: The ability of breast cancer to spread around the body can be reduced with the help of blood pressure drugs, researchers have said.

According to a joint UK and German study, the drugs may block hormones that trigger the spread of cancer cells.

However, the boffins emphasized on the fact that more evidence from bigger studies was required before the drug could be given as part of routine treatment.

Breast cancer is most easily tackled when tumours are confined to the breast only. When cancer cells migrate to other parts of the body, and start growing, a process known as metastasis, the likelihood of successful treatment begins to fall.

“The latest research, presented at the European Breast Cancer Conference in Barcelona, builds on earlier laboratory studies which suggest that the ability of cancer cells to increase in number and spread is boosted by the presence of stress hormones.

“Beta-blockers attach themselves to the same receptors on cancer cells used by these hormones, potentially reducing their ability to stimulate the cell and trigger spread,” reports The BBC.

To reach the conclusion, Dr Des Powe, from Queen`s Medical Centre, Nottingham, worked with Professor Frank Entschladen from Witten University in Germany, and looked at three groups of breast cancer patients, a total of 466 people.

Dr Powe said: "It is reasonable to speculate, therefore, that some non-hypertensive women with breast cancer will respond favourably to beta-blocker treatment, though doses and side-effects would need to be investigated in clinical trials."