beta blockers

Can Beta Blockers do Double Duty?

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Beta-blockers are a type of medication typically used to reduce high blood pressure. However, a new study published in Cancer suggests that there may be a new way to use beta-blockers to treat patients. Drugs oftentimes have multiple treatment options and this discovery could be a coup for ovarian cancer research. The study discovered that beta-blockers may help women with ovarian cancer survive longer.

The study’s lead author, Dr. Anil Sood from the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center said, “we found that patients taking a broad, or nonselective 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.” Previous research suggested that stress hormones could play a big role in the cancer’s development. While beta-blockers are typically prescribed to treat heart-related conditions, they can also impact the body’s response to stress.

In another study, “the effect of epinephrine in increasing the invasive potential of ovarian cancer cells was negated by a nonselective beta-blocker called propranolol.” While some studies investigating the use of beta-blockers have conflicting conclusions, many researchers attribute this fact to small patient numbers.

The new study under Dr. Snood analyzed 1,425 women from 2000-2010 who received treatment for ovarian cancer. Of those patients, 193 women were taking beta-1 adrenergic receptor (ADRB1) selective agents beta-blockers and 76 were receiving nonselective beta antagonists beta blockers. The median survival time for patients who did not receive beta-blockers was 42 months. Patients who received any form of beta-blocker survived 47.8 months. Among patients who received nonselective beta-blockers though, the median survival time was 94.9 months—significantly higher than the median survival time for patients receiving ADRB1 at 38 months.

Researchers also found that patients with hypertension typically survived for less time than patients without hypertension. However, even patients with hypertension had a longer median survival time among nonselective beta-blocker users compared to the nonusers. Dr. Sood explained that, “To our knowledge, the current study is the first to examine the relationships with patient outcomes based on specific types of beta-blockers.” There are currently two clinical trials underway to investigate the combination of chemotherapy and variable doses of propranolol on cancer biology alongside the impact that nonselective beta-blockers have on stress modulators in patients with diagnosed ovarian cancer.

While researchers continue to test the potential success of beta-blockers for ovarian cancer patients, your team at the Medical Alliance of Southern New Jersey is committed to helping you now. If you, or someone you love, is battling ovarian cancer, call your doctor at the Medical Alliance of Southern New Jersey today to discuss their treatment plan and ways to manage some symptoms.