Recently, scientists have found commonly used drugs for a range of chronic health diseases have toxic effects on the lungs.
The toxic effects are much more widespread than previously thought.
For example, one study from the UK found that drugs used to treat arthritis, cancer and heart disease can harm patients’ respiratory systems.
The team examined 27 drugs from 6,200 patients’ data in 156 published studies.
They found the drugs can cause difficulty breathing, inflammation, and fibrosis. But the risk sometimes only becomes apparent after the drugs have been in use for some years.
In some of the studies, death rates of over 50% were reported and overall, 25% of all the patients studied died as a result of respiratory symptoms.
The team suggests that doctors and patients need to be more aware of the potential health risks of the drugs.
Steroids are the most common drug used to treat the lung diseases caused by these drugs, but no studies examined their effect on the outcome.
The researchers now are developing imaging techniques to help manage drug-induced interstitial lung disease.
The study is published in the Journal of Clinical Medicine.
In another study, researchers from McGill University found that common high blood pressure drugs may increase the risk of lung cancer.
People who use angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitor drugs (ACEIs) for treating high blood pressure are more likely to have lung cancer.
Previous research has shown that ACEIs are effective for high blood pressure treatment. They are one of the most widely prescribed drug classes.
In the study, the team analyzed UK primary care records for nearly one million patients.
They found that people who used ACEIs to treat high blood pressure had a 14% higher risk of lung cancer than people who took another group of blood pressure drugs called angiotensin receptor blockers (ARBs).
In addition, lung cancer risk is much higher (31%) in people had used ACEIs for more than five years.
The team says that ACEIs are widely prescribed and the small cancer effects may translate into large numbers of lung cancer patients.
Their future work will directly test the causal effect between ACEIs and lung cancer.
The study is published in The BMJ.
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