Does β-adrenoceptor blocker therapy improve cancer survival? Findings from a population-based retrospective cohort study

Br J Clin Pharmacol. 2011 Jul;72(1):157-61. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2125.2011.03980.x.


Aims: To examine the effect of β-adrenoceptor blocker treatment on cancer survival.

Methods: In a UK primary care database, we compared patients with a new cancer diagnosis receiving β-adrenoceptor blockers regularly (n= 1406) with patients receiving other antihypertensive medication (n= 2056).

Results: Compared with cancer patients receiving other antihypertensive medication, patients receiving β-adrenoceptor blocker therapy experienced slightly poorer survival (HR = 1.18, 95% CI 1.04, 1.33 for all β-adrenoceptor blockers; HR = 1.21, 95% CI 0.94, 1.55 for non-selective β-adrenoceptor blockers). This poorer overall survival was explained by patients with pancreatic and prostate cancer with no evidence of an effect on survival for patients with lung, breast or colorectal cancer. Analysis in a cancer-free matched parallel cohort did not suggest selection bias masked a beneficial effect.

Conclusion: Our study does not support the hypothesis that β-adrenoceptor blockers improve survival for common cancers.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adrenergic beta-Antagonists / therapeutic use*
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Cohort Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hypertension / drug therapy*
  • Hypertension / mortality*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Neoplasms / mortality*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Survival Rate
  • Treatment Outcome
  • United Kingdom


  • Adrenergic beta-Antagonists