The carcinogen hiding in your blood pressure meds

Untreated high blood pressure is dangerous. About half of people who don’t treat their high blood pressure die from heart disease and a third die from stroke.

So, if you have high blood pressure, take it seriously.

But I’ll tell you something… there’s no way I’d ever trade a fairly serious condition like high blood pressure for a super serious one like cancer.

Would you?

I didn’t think so. You’d have to be crazy to do that. But that’s what millions of people may be doing on accident. They’re taking high blood pressure meds that contain a potentially dangerous carcinogen…

A chemical that creates rocket fuel… and cancer

The FDA just issued a massive recall on blood pressure and heart failure medications made with the active ingredient valsartan.

Apparently, some of these medications (55 total) contain a chemical that’s used to make rocket fuel — N- nitroso-dimethylamine (NDMA). Unsurprisingly, ingesting a chemical that can make rocket fuel in your daily medication isn’t great for you.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) classified NDMA as a probable human carcinogen. And the Department of Health and Human Services says that “NDMA is reasonably anticipated to be a human carcinogen.”

That’s because it causes things like liver, respiratory tract, kidney and blood vessel tumors in rats, mice and other mammals. It’s also known to cause liver damage in people at high enough doses.

How did this carcinogenic chemical wind up in millions of people’s medications… especially if it’s on the EPA’s and the DHHS’s naughty list?

Well, apparently it can be created inadvertently through certain chemical reactions. The FDA believes the medications being recalled were manufactured in a way that triggered one of these reactions. That means, not all valsartan-based medications contain this carcinogen.

But still, it’s scary to think that if these medications are manufactured wrong, it could trigger a chemical reaction that creates a carcinogen. If you’re using these medications every day, it’s a big risk to take.

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Other blood pressure meds come with a cancer risk too

Of course, this isn’t the first time blood pressure meds have been connected to cancer risk. Commonly prescribed blood pressure medications (like calcium channel blockers) have been tied to increased risks of breast cancer, ovarian cancer, skin cancer and more.

In fact, earlier this year, I wrote about a study that showed women who took short-acting calcium channel blockers were 107 percent more likely to develop pancreatic cancer than women who took other types of blood pressure medication.

So, what’s someone with high blood pressure to do when cancer risk is hiding in so many pill bottles?

Learn about your alternatives…

Alternative remedies for high blood pressure

First things first…

If you’re taking a blood pressure medication with the active ingredient valsartan, check the FDA’s recall list to make sure it’s not on there. If it is, schedule an appointment with your doctor immediately.

But FYI…

No matter what type of blood pressure medication you’re taking, it’s not a good idea to stop taking it abruptly. In fact, it’s not a good idea to do that with any medication.

You’ll always want to work with a doctor when stopping medications, because you may need to gradually reduce your dose to keep yourself safe.

The good news is, there are plenty of natural blood pressure remedies you can explore while you’re getting your medication situation sorted out, like:

  • Blood-pressure friendly diets. Certain foods are known to lower blood pressure, like garlic, magnesium-rich foods, foods high in omega-3s and foods with a lot of potassium. There’s even an entire diet dedicated to helping people lower their blood pressure. It’s called the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet.
  • Exercise routines. Did you know that exercising just 30 minutes per day can lower high blood pressure by 5 to 8 mm Hg? But you have to stick to it, else your blood pressure levels will start rising again. If you’re a post-menopausal woman, research says this is the best exercise to help you.
  • Stress-relief tactics. Stress has a huge impact on your blood pressure levels. Problem is, stress isn’t easy to control. Start by cutting out stress triggers that aren’t a necessary part of your life. Then try a few proven stress-reducing techniques at this link to help “bio hack” your blood pressure.
  • Supplements. Olive leaf extract and hawthorn berry extract are both known to lower blood pressure, but there are plenty of others, including grape seed extract and pterostilbene. Consider a quality probiotic since three studies have tied gut health to better blood pressure. Partner with a naturopathic doctor who can give you a natural “prescription” without any cancer-related side effects.

Editor’s note: Sadly, we all know someone who’s battled or is battling cancer. Don’t wait and hope for the best. Potent natural cancer fighters exist in nature and you can have them all at your fingertips! We’ve compiled them all for you into one comprehensive cancer guide, Surviving Cancer! For a preview of what you’ll find, Click here!

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Jenny Smiechowski

By Jenny Smiechowski

Jenny Smiechowski is a Chicago-based freelance writer who specializes in health, nutrition and the environment. Her work has appeared in online and print publications like Chicagoland Gardening magazine, Organic Lifestyle Magazine, BetterLife Magazine, TheFix.com, Hybridcars.com and Seedstock.com.