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Blood Pressure Drugs Up the Risk of Lip Cancer

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Findings from a new study link several blood pressure drugs to an increased risk of lip cancer in white people. The drugs, including Adalat, Niefediac and Cordipin, may make the skin more sensitive to sunlight and sun damage. Lip cancer is a very rare condition, and the study researchers warn that the findings should not prompt users to stop taking their blood pressure medications without first talking to their doctor.

Dr. Gary Friedman at the Kaiser Permanente Medical Care Program of Northern California led the study and he and his colleagues compared data from 700 patients in Northern California with lip cancer to 23,000 patients without lip cancer. They found that white people taking blood pressure drugs were four times more likely to get lip cancer than those who did not take the medications during a five year time period. Compared to the general population, where the risk of lip cancer is 1 in 100,000, this is a large jump. Furthermore, the increased risk of lip cancer still remained even after controlling for smoking. The risk was greatest when patients used the drugs for the long-term.

However, some doctors are not convinced of the study's findings. Dr. Gregg Fonarow, the director of Ahmanson-UCLA Cardiomyopathy Center in Los Angeles and professor of medicine, is one of those skeptics. He claims that the findings of the research do not match other studies' findings and that this study was funded by the U.S. National Cancer Institute. Dr. Friedman and his colleagues premise their findings by stating that lip cancer is very rare, highly curable, and is likely to occur only in fair-skinned people who spend a lot of time outdoors without protection.