High BP ups cancer death risk

Washington: Suffering from high blood pressure? Then you are at a higher risk of developing and dying of cancer, warns a study – the largest of its kind – on the issue.

The study, involving almost 600,000 people, found men with high blood pressure faced a greater risk of between 10 and 20 percent of being diagnosed with cancer, while a higher risk of dying from the disease in both sexes.

Lead researcher Dr Mieke Van Hemelrijck, a research associate in the Cancer Epidemiology Group at King’s College London, and her colleagues analysed blood-pressure data and figures on cancer incidence and death rates among 289,454 men and 288,345 women in Norway, Austria and Sweden over 12 years.

During that time, 22,184 men and 14,744 women were diagnosed with cancer and 8,724 men and 4,525 women died from the disease.

The overall risk of developing any cancer increased by 29 percent between men with the lowest blood pressure in the study and those with the highest.

As blood pressure rose in men, the study found that so did their risk of developing oral, bowel, lung, bladder and kidney cancers, as well as melanoma and non-melanoma skin cancers.

In women, increased blood pressure was not statistically linked with an overall increased risk of developing any cancer, but was linked with a higher incidence of cancers of the liver, pancreas, cervix, womb and melanoma skin cancer.

“Our study shows that blood pressure is a risk factor for incident cancer in men and fatal cancer in men and women. Although the relative and absolute risk estimates were rather modest, these results are important from a public health perspective since a large proportion of the population in many western countries suffers from hypertension,” said the researchers.

However, Dr Van Hemelrijck cautioned that the study did not prove that high blood pressure itself caused cancer.

The researchers were also unsure why men with high blood pressure appeared to have a higher cancer risk than women.

The findings were recently presented at the 2011 European Multidisciplinary Cancer Congress in Stockholm.