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Oncotarget. 2010 Nov;1(7):628-38.

Beta-blocker drug therapy reduces secondary cancer formation in breast cancer and improves cancer specific survival.

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  • 1Department of Cellular Pathology, Queen's Medical Centre, Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust, Nottingham, NG7 2UH, UK.


Laboratory models show that the beta-blocker, propranolol, can inhibit norepinephrine-induced breast cancer cell migration. We hypothesised that breast cancer patients receiving beta-blockers for hypertension would show reduced metastasis and improved clinical outcome. Three patient subgroups were identified from the medical records of 466 consecutive female patients (median age 57, range 28-71) with operable breast cancer and follow-up (>10 years). Two subgroups comprised 43 and 49 hypertensive patients treated with beta-blockers or other antihypertensives respectively, prior to cancer diagnosis. 374 patients formed a non-hypertensive control group. Metastasis development, disease free interval, tumour recurrence and hazards risk were statistically compared between groups. Kaplan-Meier plots were used to model survival and DM. Beta-blocker treated patients showed a significant reduction in metastasis development (p=0.026), tumour recurrence (p=0.001), and longer disease free interval (p=0.01). In addition, there was a 57% reduced risk of metastasis (Hazards ratio=0.430; 95% CI=0.200-0.926, p=0.031), and a 71% reduction in breast cancer mortality after 10 years (Hazards ratio=0.291; 95% CI=0.119-0.715, p=0.007). This proof-of-principle study showed beta-blocker therapy significantly reduces distant metastases, cancer recurrence, and cancer-specific mortality in breast cancer patients suggesting a novel role for beta-blocker therapy. A larger epidemiological study leading to randomised clinical trials is needed for breast and other cancer types including colon, prostate and ovary.

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