There is vast potential of using “off label” medications to enhance the treatment of many forms of cancer. I have Stage 1V Breast Cancer, thus I am focusing on what I have found out about this. Extensive research has discovered the vast potential of using “off-label” medications and focusing on specific low-toxic non-cancer drugs that have been “re-purposed” for use by breast cancer patients, to reduce their risks of recurrence and mortality.

Today, I am concentrating on one of these common and inexpensive drugs – Beta Blockers. The data these two researchers present on Beta Blockers (normally used for hypertension) is nothing short of mind-boggling and they have manageable and generally minimal side effects. The findings incredibly show that taking Beta Blockers can reduce mortality and cancer relapse.  The older type Beta Blocker namely Propranolol (with the brand name Inderal) blocks both Beta-1 and Beta-2 Adrenergic Receptors, which is key – because many of the new Beta Blockers only block Beta-1 – which is clearly insufficient for stopping cancer. In other words, it is only the old style beta blocker Propranolol because it also blocks Beta-2, which is the linchpin for stopping breast cancer growth., (Please note that Atenolol – one of the new Beta Blockers that only inhibits Beta-1, has not reliably been shown to reduce breast cancer mortality.)

The effects are incredible, as has been shown in cell studies; animal studies, and – most importantly – human population studies in which researchers looked back at who took Propranolol for blood pressure to see how they fared compared to the rest of the patients. The most remarkable study drew from research on 5,333 breast cancer patients from the Irish National Registry; the researchers found that 590 of them took Beta Blockers, with a subset taking Propranolol and another taking Atenolol. They matched each patient on Beta Blockers with other patients and among the 5,333 who were most similar in terms of demographics, risk factors (breast cancer stage, etc.), lifestyle factors both negative and positive (smoking, aspirin, etc.). The most astonishing finding: When the Propranolol users were compared to matched controls who took no Beta Blockers, the Propranolol users had a breast-cancer death rate that was 81% less than their counterparts who were the same in every way – except that they had not been taking any Beta Blockers. There was no such association for the Atenolol users. 

This astonishing effect of Beta Blockers (namely Propranolol) is not limited to breast cancer.  There are multiple studies on more than half-a-dozen major cancers, including Lung Cancer, Melanoma, Colorectal Cancer, and Ovarian Cancer. Just recently, the Wall Street Journal ran a major story on the ability of Propranolol (specifically) to increase Median Survival from 42 months ( 3 1/2 years) to 95 months (8 years) – more than doubling survival time. The same extraordinary benefit did not accrue to patients on the newer (Beta-1 selective) Beta Blockers.

The kind of data on Beta Blockers for risk reduction among patients with existing cancers are so extraordinary, yet little is being done to expedite the process by which oncologists will start prescribing these safe drugs, alongside their Gold Standard treatment, (if given in relatively low doses with special care to determine any special conditions, potential drug interactions, or contraindications in individual patients) for cancer patients who need these edges against their diseases. The extent to which Beta Blockers and several other drugs would reduce the risk of death from breast cancer (and other cancers mentioned above) is at a level that would otherwise lead to countless investment dollars if they were new biotech drugs with enormous (hundreds of billions) of potential profits.

Beta Blockers are but one example among many of drugs that long ago became generics and which could never lead to the kinds of profits that newly patented, newly approved drugs can make based on their inflated prices. And therefore, not worth the huge investments needed for the gold-standard randomized trials necessary to get such drugs approved for various cancers.