Prostate cancer has become a growing problem among American men, but many are successfully treated with hormone therapy. However, is this hormone therapy safe?
CBS news reports on prostate cancer treatment plans and the consequences.
A new study shows that the hormone therapy linked to prostate cancer treatment might lead to Alzheimer’s.
Dr. Kevin Nead, of the University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine, led the study. He commented on it to CBS saying, “In this study, we did find that men who received hormone therapy had about an 88 percent increased risk of Alzheimer's disease.”
The study’s findings were published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology, and found that men who were on androgen deprivation therapy (ADT) for more than a year had the highest risk of developing Alzheimer's.
Why is hormone therapy used? Since testosterone can spark the growth of prostate tumors, doctors have used ADT to lower testosterone and other androgens in prostate cancer patients for decades now.
Dr. Nead said, “Testosterone has been shown to be important for the health of neurons and neurons make up the brain and if we are not keeping those neurons healthy it could lead to an increased risk of Alzheimer's.”
How was the study conducted?
Experts from Stanford University School of Medicine and the University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine analyzed the medical records of more than 16,000 patients with non-metastatic prostate cancer so that the study would be comprehensive. Researchers said around 2,400 of the people had been treated with ADT.
Nigam Shah, PhD, associate professor of biomedical informatics research at Stanford, was the senior study author. He said, “This is the kind of question that typically you would need a large clinical trial to answer. So instead, we're making secondary use of existing clinical data collected as part of routine medical care.”
The experts set controls for things like age and heart disease.
The research actually does not show a cause and effect relationship. Right now experts only have enough to show an association.
Dr. Matt Galsky, director of Genitourinary Medical Oncology at Mount Sinai Hospital, commented on the research. He said, “The benefits of continuing treatment far outweigh this theoretical risk based on this retrospective study.”
Researchers are saying it is generally patients with advanced prostate cancer who are given ADT, so it is unclear whether the increased Alzheimer's risk is connected with the treatment or with the dangers of the disease. Experts plan to do more research before coming to any conclusions.