Androgen Deprivation Therapy for Prostate Cancer Linked To Increased Alzheimer’s Risk: Study

Men undergoing a prostate cancer treatment known as androgen deprivation therapy (ADT) may face double the risk of Alzheimer’s disease, according to the findings of a new study. 

Researchers from the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania warn that there is an association between androgen treatment and the development of the neurodegenerative disease later in life. The findings were published on December 7, in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

ADT, also known as androgen suppression therapy, is a type of hormone therapy used to treat prostate cancer in men. It reduces the level of male hormones in the body in order to prevent the development of prostate cancer cells. Androgen therapy is often used to treat advanced stages of prostate cancer, or when the cancer has returned after being previously treated.

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The process can involve the use of the testosterone-lowering drug Firmagon, through the use of a class of drugs known as luteinizing hormone-releasing hormone (LHRH) analogs, like Pupron, Eligard, Zoladex, Trelstar or Vantas, or via surgical castration through removal of the testicles.

Half a million men are estimated to be currently undergoing ADT nationwide. Known side effects of androgen treatment can include depression, heart disease, impotence, diabetes and high blood pressure.

Researchers looked at the methods involving the use of drug therapies affecting nearly 17,000 patients treated at Stanford University and Mt. Sinai hospitals. They found that those who received ADT were 88% more likely to be later diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease than those who had not been given ADT treatment.

The study also found a statistically significant increased risk linked to increasing duration of ADT, meaning the longer a man was on ADT, the more likely he would develop Alzheimer’s disease.

“Our results support an association between the use of ADT in the treatment of prostate cancer and an increased risk of Alzheimer’s disease in a general population cohort,” the researchers determined, although they said they did not find a direct causal link.

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