Objective: To assess the relationship between use of calcium antagonists and incidence of fatal or non-fatal cancer over 3 years in the Starnberg Study on Epidemiology of Parkinsonism and Hypertension in the Elderly (STEPHY) population.
Design: A prospective cohort study with follow-up analysis after 3 years.
Patients and methods: In 1992 STEPHY workers investigated the total population aged > 65 years (n = 1190) of two villages in Bavaria, Germany. With 982 participants (response rate 83%) the prevalence of 'actual' hypertension (blood pressure > or = 160/95 mmHg or treatment) was 53%. Of all hypertensives (n = 491), 54% were being treated, 28% (n = 137) with calcium antagonists. Participants with a history of cancer or manifest cancer were excluded from further analysis. In 1995 in STEPHY II, the 3-year follow-up, we assessed total mortality (including cases of fatal cancer), cardiovascular events and cases of non-fatal cancer between 1992 and 1995. The evaluation included a second interview, use of case records of general practitioners and hospitals and analysis of the official death certificates. The total incidence of fatal and non-fatal cancer (a combined end point) was calculated for participants treated with calcium antagonists and those not taking calcium antagonists.
Results: Total mortality over 3 years was 12.1 % (n = 119). There were 22 deaths due to cancer and 75 cases of newly diagnosed non-fatal cancer. The combined incidence of fatal and non-fatal cancer (primary end point) was 10.9% (n = 15) for participants treated with calcium antagonists and 9.7% (n = 82) for those not taking calcium antagonists (odds ratio 1.12, 95% confidence interval 0.7-1.8). There was also no significant difference between the incidences of fatal cancer (2.2% in both groups), non-fatal cancer (12.5% for participants treated with calcium antagonists and 10.8% for those not taking calcium antagonists) and total mortality (14.6% for participants taking calcium antagonists and 11.7% for those not treated with calcium antagonists).
Conclusion: Use of calcium antagonists does not increase the risk of fatal or non-fatal cancer over 3 years in an elderly mid-European population.