A study published in 2017 reported on the potential effects of taking a cheap blood pressure medication while also being treated with immunotherapy for metastatic melanoma.
Their results were so exciting, that they have led to a clinical trial of concurrent propranolol (a generic β-blocker blood pressure drug) and pembrolizumab (a commonly used immunotherapy drug, also known as Keytruda) for first-line treatment of patients with metastatic melanoma.
In their study, they looked back at 195 of their patients with metastatic melanoma who were treated with different immunotherapy drugs.
They discovered that the patients who took a beta-blocker, like propranolol (a non-specific β-blocker, also known as a “pan” β-blocker) had a 5 year overall survival rate of approximately 70%!
In comparison, the patients not on a pan-β-blocker had a 5 year overall survival rate of only 25%.
This study was published online December 21, 2017, in OncoImmunology.
“β-Blockers slow your heart rhythm, but they can also affect immune cells and improve immune function,” commented senior study author, Todd Schell, PhD, professor of microbiology and immunology, in a press statement.”
Even if you don’t have metastatic melanoma, pan-β-blockers may reduce your risk of recurrence by 80% according to another study published in 2018.
Should you take a pan-β-blocker even if you don’t have high blood pressure? This is a question to ask your primary care provider, cardiologist or oncologist, as there are many nuances that need to be addressed on the safety of this approach based on each individual’s condition.
If you want to take a non-drug approach, implement a daily practice of stress reduction (breathing exercises, yoga, exercise, biofeedback, meditation, etc.). Reducing stress also decreases the stimulation of the same β-receptor that is blocked by these drugs.