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Friday, July 17, 1998 Published at 04:17 GMT 05:17 UK


Blood pressure drug may cut cancer risk

Could a pill with few side-effects replace this kind of treatment?

Some drugs commonly used to treat high blood pressure have been found to reduce the risk of developing cancer by 30% and slow the growth of tumours.

Research published in medical journal, The Lancet, suggests that drugs known as ACE inhibitors may have what the authors call a "hidden dividend".

Professor Tony Lever at Glasgow University's medical school, who conducted the research, says in a few years "the eyes of the world could well be focusing on this research".

He stresses, however, that "there is a lot we don't know".

He believes that the drugs may work by starving cancerous tumours of blood.

"Tumours need a good blood supply in order to grow and if you can nobble the blood supply then you can nobble the tumour," he said.

Clinical trials will follow

The researchers looked at 16 years of medical records from local centres and found 30% fewer cancers than expected in patients taking the blood pressure drugs.

They will now be doing a four- or five-year random clinical study in an attempt to produce more proof of the drug's effectiveness and learn more about how it works.

"If those results are borne out then we are looking at a very important breakthrough because this drug is already widely available across the globe and has no significant side effects," said Professor Lever.

The drugs can be dangerous to pregnant women, but the only other known side-effect is coughing.

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