Angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors (ACEi) and angiotensin II receptor blockers (ARBs) reduce cardiovascular disease (CVD) events, but a recent meta-analysis of selected studies suggested that ARBs may increase cancer risks.
Candesartan, irbesartan, telmisartan, valsartan, and losartan were assessed for incident cancers in 15 large parallel long-term multicenter double-blind clinical trials of these agents involving 138 769 participants.
Patients and methods
Individuals at high CVD risk were randomized to telmisartan (three trials, n = 51 878), irbesartan (three trials, n = 14 859), valsartan (four trials, n = 44 264), candesartan (four trials, n = 18 566), and losartan (one trial, n = 9193) and followed for 23–60 months. Incident cancer cases were compared in patients randomized to ARBs versus controls. In five trials (n = 42 403), the ARBs were compared to ACEi and in 11 trials (n = 63 313) to controls without ACEi. In addition, in seven trials (n = 47 020), the effect of ARBs with ACEi was compared to ACEi alone and in two trials ARBs with ACEi versus ARB alone (n = 25 712).
Overall, there was no excess of cancer incidence with ARB therapy compared to controls in the 15 trials [4549 (6.16%) cases of 73 808 allocated to ARB versus 3856 (6.31%) of 61 106 assigned to non-ARB controls; odds ratio (OR) 1.00, 95% confidence interval (CI) 0.95–1.04] overall or when individual ARBs were examined. ORs comparing combination therapy with ARB along with ACEi versus ACEi was 1.01 (95% CI 0.94–1.10), combination versus ARB alone 1.02 (95% CI 0.91–1.13), ARB alone versus ACEi alone 1.06 (95% CI 0.97–1.16) and ARB versus placebo/control without ACEi 0.97 (95% CI 0.91–1.04). There was no excess of lung, prostate or breast cancer, or overall cancer deaths associated with ARB treatment.
There was no significant increase in the overall or site-specific cancer risk from ARBs compared to controls.