Breast Cancer Research and Treatment

, Volume 150, Issue 1, pp 219–229 | Cite as

Antihypertensive medication use and incident breast cancer in women

  • Elizabeth E. Devore
  • Sung Kim
  • Cody A. Ramin
  • Lani R. Wegrzyn
  • Jennifer Massa
  • Michelle D. Holmes
  • Karin B. Michels
  • Rulla M. Tamimi
  • John P. Forman
  • Eva S. Schernhammer


The purpose of this study was to evaluate whether antihypertensive medication use, including long-term use, is associated with increased breast cancer incidence in women. We studied 210,641 U.S. registered nurses participating in the Nurses’ Health Study (NHS) and Nurses’ Health Study II (NHS II). Information on antihypertensive medication use was collected on biennial questionnaires in both cohorts, and breast cancer cases were ascertained during this period. Multivariable-adjusted Cox proportional hazard models were used to estimate relative risks of invasive breast cancer over follow-up (1988–2012 in NHS, 1989–2011 in NHS II) across categories of overall antihypertensive medication use and use of specific classes (diuretics, beta blockers, calcium channel blockers, and angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors). During follow-up, 10,012 cases of invasive breast cancer developed (6718 cases in NHS and 3294 in the NHS II). Overall, current use of any antihypertensive medication was not associated with breast cancer risk compared with past/never use in NHS (multivariable-adjusted relative risk = 1.00, 95 % CI = 0.95–1.06) or NHS II (multivariable-adjusted relative risk = 0.94, 95 % CI = 0.86–1.03). Furthermore, no specific class of antihypertensive medication was consistently associated with breast cancer risk. Results were similar when we considered hypertensive women only, and when we evaluated consistency and duration of medication use over time. Overall, antihypertensive medication use was largely unrelated to the risk of invasive breast cancer among women in the NHS cohorts.


Antihypertensive medication Breast cancer Cohort study Epidemiology 



Angiotensin-converting enzyme


Confidence interval


Estrogen receptor




Nurses’ Health Study


Nurses’ Health Study II


Relative risk



We would like to thank the participants and staff of the Nurses’ Health Study and Nurses’ Health Study II for their valuable contributions, as well as the following state cancer registries for their help: AL, AZ, AR, CA, CO, CT, DE, FL, GA, ID, IL, IN, IA, KY, LA, ME, MD, MA, MI, NE, NH, NJ, NY, NC, ND, OH, OK, OR, PA, RI, SC, TN, TX, VA, WA, WY. We also want to acknowledge the contribution of Dr. Steven Lockley, Division of Sleep and Circadian Disorders, Departments of Medicine and Neurology, Brigham and Women’s Hospital. He provided the initial impetus for examining associations between beta blocker use and breast cancer risk in women, based on his interest in the melatonin-modulating effects of beta blockers. Dr. Lockley did not receive any compensation for his contribution.


The National Cancer Institute funds the Nurses’ Health Study (P01 CA87969) and Nurses’ Health Study II (UM1 CA176726). L.R.W. received partial support from a National Institutes of Health training grant (R25 CA098566) during the time that she contributed to this paper.

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Statement on research involving human participants and/or animals

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards. This article does not contain any studies with animals performed by any of the authors.

Informed consent

Implied informed consent, indicated by voluntary return of the cohort questionnaires, was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.

Supplementary material

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(PDF 68 kb)
10549_2015_3311_MOESM2_ESM.pdf (79 kb)
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Elizabeth E. Devore
    • 1
    • 9
  • Sung Kim
    • 2
  • Cody A. Ramin
    • 1
    • 3
  • Lani R. Wegrzyn
    • 4
  • Jennifer Massa
    • 5
  • Michelle D. Holmes
    • 1
    • 4
  • Karin B. Michels
    • 1
    • 4
    • 6
  • Rulla M. Tamimi
    • 1
    • 4
  • John P. Forman
    • 7
  • Eva S. Schernhammer
    • 1
    • 4
    • 8
  1. 1.Channing Division of Network Medicine, Department of MedicineBrigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical SchoolBostonUSA
  2. 2.Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health SciencesBostonUSA
  3. 3.Department of EpidemiologyJohns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, BaltimoreBaltimoreUSA
  4. 4.Department of EpidemiologyHarvard School of Public HeathBostonUSA
  5. 5.Department of NutritionHarvard School of Public HealthBostonUSA
  6. 6.Obstetrics and Gynecology Epidemiology Center, Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive BiologyBrigham and Women’s Hospital, Harvard Medical SchoolBostonUSA
  7. 7.Renal DivisionBrigham and Women’s HospitalBostonUSA
  8. 8.Applied Cancer Research-Institution for Translational Research Vienna (ACR-ITR VIEnna)ViennaAustria
  9. 9.BostonUSA

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