Can Blood Pressure Medication Cause Cancer?
- Pfizer is recalling its Accuretic blood pressure tablets and two generic versions out of concern they contain nitrosamines.
- Nitrosamines have been linked to cancer over long-term use, but experts tell SurvivorNet that no one trigger is going to definitively cause cancer.
- The U.S. Food and Drug Administration says patients should not stop taking the recalled medications as they seek an alternative by contacting their doctor.
The drugmaker said it is undertaking the recall because the tablets contain nitrosamine, an ingredient linked to a potential increased cancer risk when used over a long period.Read More
She said it appears there is concern that the nitrosamines in the tablets, even in tiny quantities, could add to the amount of nitrates that people already ingest from food and drinks — and “thus increase cancer risk.”
Even if this were to happen, it would likely be rare, Taioli said, but “the fact that a lot of people take this common anti-hypertensive drugs expand the pool of people exposed and the chances of seeing a negative effect at a population level.”
There is “no immediate risk” to anyone currently taking the tablets, according to Pfizer. Patients should consult with their doctor to find a new medication.
“The products have a safety profile that has been established over 20 years of marketing authorization and through a robust clinical program,” the company said in a statement. “To date, Pfizer is not aware of reports of adverse events that have been assessed to be related to this recall.”
It added that it believes based on that data, the benefits outweigh the risks, but it is proceeding with the recall nonetheless.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration says patients should not stop taking the recalled medications as they seek an alternative.
What’s Being Recalled?
Here are the specifics you need to know:
- Six lots of Accuretic tablets
- One lot of quinapril and hydrochlorothiazide tablets
- Four lots of quinapril HCl/ hydrochlorothiazide tablets
- The product lots were distributed nationwide to wholesalers and distributors in the United States and Puerto Rico from November 2019 to March 2022.
What Should I Do If I Take This Medication?
- Check to see if your lot is being recalled at Pfizer.com.
- Patients who are taking the tablets should phone 888-843-0247 to initiate the process of returning the medication and receiving a refund.
- Pfizer instructed wholesalers and distributors to stop selling the affected lots in their inventory and quarantine any remaining product.
What Are Nitrosamines?
From bacon to beer, none of us are far from nitrosamines.
“Nitrosamines are common in water and foods, including cured and grilled meats, dairy products and vegetables. Everyone is exposed to some level of nitrosamines,” the FDA says.
They can form from chemical reactions during the drug manufacturing process, according to the FDA.
We’re exposed to carcinogens, or substances that can cause cancer, throughout our daily lives. But many people will not go on to develop the disease.
“We create carcinogens all the time in our foods when we cook them, and very few of us get cancer because our bodies can handle them,” Dr. Robert Wright, chair of the Department of Environmental Medicine and Public Health at Mount Sinai, told SurvivorNet in a previous interview. “But some people have susceptibilities to these environmental carcinogens, which might be genetic or might be caused by combinations of carcinogens.”
It’s important to understand that no one trigger is going to definitively cause cancer, Dr. Wright said, but it could be a combination of triggers in the environment.
“Cancer isn’t caused by one event, typically, it’s usually a series or combination of events,” he said. “So, it may be that you ate a lot of charred food, it may be that you’re also a smoker, it may be that you’ve inherited a genetic susceptibility to be a little bit more sensitive to those chemicals.”
Are the toxins in our environment making us sick?