New research shows that beta-blockers, safe and inexpensive heart meds often prescribed for a number of cardiovascular conditions, may also help fight breast cancer, according a study published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology and reported by Health Day News.

Beta-blockers work by minimizing effects of the stress hormones epinephrine (adrenaline) and norepinephrine (noradrenaline). Since it’s known that both stress hormones are linked to an increase in breast cancer recurrence, researchers set out to explore if decreasing the hormones would also lower breast cancer recurrence.

For the first study, Irish and U.S. researchers merged data from a large national cancer registry in Ireland with additional information from a pharmaceutical database. The scientists identified 70 women taking the beta-blocker propranolol and 525 women taking the beta-blocker atenolol in the year before doctors diagnosed them with breast cancer. Researchers matched the women with a control group of 4,700 women with breast cancer who had not taken beta-blockers. (All the women were 40 or older.)

Researchers found that women taking propranolol were significantly less likely to be diagnosed with advanced cancer or to die from breast cancer. What’s more, scientists noted the longer the women used propranolol, the better their outcome. (Researchers found no such association for women who took atenolol.)

In a second study, researchers looked at 1,413 women who took beta-blockers and were treated with chemotherapy for breast cancer; it turns out half of them experienced a reduction in cancer recurrence compared with those who didn’t take beta-blockers. (But only women with triple-negative breast cancer and a 70 percent lower risk of recurrence seemed to benefit.)

What doctors noted is that while these studies serve to confirm a connection between stress-fighting beta-blockers and a lower chance of breast cancer recurrence, more studies must be done to confirm this benefit.

But people don’t have to take beta-blockers to help tame cancer-causing stress hormones, researchers said. Lifestyle changes, such as managing weight and quitting smoking, do the same thing.

Click here to learn three simple habits that can reduce your risk for breast cancer.