Angiotensin receptor blockers and the risk of cancer: insights from clinical trials and recent drug recalls


Purpose of Review: The purpose of this review is to familiarize readers with issues surrounding angiotensin receptor blockers (ARBs) and the risk of cancer, both from the perspective of clinical trial data and the more recent concerns about impurities in certain ARB products.

Recent Findings: Approximately 45.6% of adults in the USA have hypertension. ARB-containing medications are widely used in the USA, with tens of millions of prescriptions written yearly. Whether exposure to certain ARB drug products contributes to the development of cancer has been the topic of a series of publications. Nonetheless, ARBs’ link to cancer, if any, remains inconclusive. Any mechanistic link between ARBs and cancer is poorly understood, with a variety of basic science studies suggesting that ARBs should exert a protective effect. Due to the presence of potentially carcinogenic nitrosamine impurities in certain ARB products, a series of large recalls in the USA and in countries around the world has occurred since 2018. These recalls have occurred in the context of two recent trends affecting antihypertensive drugs: nearly ubiquitous reliance on generic drugs and increased use of manufacturing facilities in China and India to supply the USA.

Current Hypertension Reports, 22(20)