New research shows that beta-blockers, commonly used blood pressure medicines, may reduce stress, slowing the rate of melanoma tumor growth. The new findings may lead to improved quality of life for those diagnosed with malignant melanoma.
According to researchers from Ohio State University, there is a definite link between stress hormones and diseases such as cancer. The current study, published in the journal Brain, Behavior and Immunity, shows that proteins released by cells exposed to the stress hormone norepinephrine, feeds cancerous tumors, causing the tumors to spread.
The scientists specifically looked for increased levels of three proteins released by cancer cells in response to stress. A process known as angiogenesis produces blood vessels that feed tumors. VEGF, vascular endothelial growth factor,is a protein that is primarily responsible for feeding cancerous tumors. Two other proteins, Interleukin-6 and Interleukin-8, also play a key role in the growth of cancer cells.
Eric V. Yang, a research scientist at the Institute for Behavioral Medicine Research (IBMR) performed the research in conjunction with Ronald Glaser. According to Yang, the melanoma research showed that increased stress from the release of norepinephrine also increased the production of the enzymes that promote cancer growth.
Yang says, “we got a 2,000 percent increase in IL-6”-(interleukin-6)–adding “this tells us is that stress might have a worse effect on melanoma that is in a very aggressive or advanced stage, and that one marker for that might be increased levels of IL-6.”
When the researchers added beta-blockers, they found a significant decrease in production of the enzymes that fuel cancer. The results show that blood pressure medicine was valuable in reducing melanoma angiogenesis.
The study authors concluded that blood pressure medication might slow melanoma growth, adding quality and extended life to those diagnosed with advanced malignant melanoma, an aggressive form of cancer that kills 8000 people annually.
Kathleen Blanchard RN
STRESS MAY HASTEN THE GROWTH OF MELANOMA TUMORS BUT COMMON BETA-BLOCKER MEDICATIONS MIGHT SLOW THAT PROGRESS