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Common Heart Drug Might Improve Lung Cancer Survival
Date:1/9/2013

By Steven Reinberg
HealthDay Reporter

WEDNESDAY, Jan. 9 (HealthDay News) -- New research suggests that beta blockers, medications that are used to control blood pressure and heart rhythms, may also help lung cancer patients live longer.

The researchers found that patients with non-small-cell lung cancer being treated with radiation lived 22 percent longer if they were also taking these drugs.

"These findings were the first, to our knowledge, demonstrating a survival benefit associated with the use of beta blockers and radiation therapy for lung cancer," said lead researcher Dr. Daniel Gomez, an assistant professor in the department of radiation oncology at the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston.

"The results imply that there may be another mechanism, largely unexplored, that could potentially reduce the rates of tumor spread in patients with this very aggressive disease," he added.

The report was published Jan. 9 in the Annals of Oncology.

For the study, Gomez's team compared the outcomes of more than 700 patients undergoing radiation therapy for lung cancer.

The investigators found that the 155 patients taking beta blockers for heart problems lived an average of almost two years, compared with an average of 18.6 months for patients not taking these drugs.

The findings held even after adjusting for other factors such as age, stage of the disease, whether or not chemotherapy was given at the same time, presence of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and aspirin use, the researchers noted.

Beta blockers also improved survival without the disease spreading to other parts of the body and survival without the disease recurring, they added.

Beta blockers, however, made no difference in the length of survival without the disease progressing in the part of the lungs where it started, the study authors pointed out.

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