Prostate cancer drug boosts heart disease risk

Tuesday, April 06, 2010 by: David Gutierrez, staff writer
Tags: prostate cancer, heart disease, health news

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(NaturalNews) A common prostate cancer treatment may significantly increase men's risk of heart problems, according to a study conducted by researchers from King's College London and presented at a joint meeting of the European Cancer Organization and the European Society for Medical Oncology in Berlin.

"What we can do with these results is to raise a flag with hormone treatments," lead researcher Mieke Van Hemelrijck said.

Researchers compared the rates of heart problems -- from chest pain to heart attacks and death -- among more than 30,000 Swedish men who had received hormone therapy for prostate cancer between 1997 and 2006 with the rates among the Swedish population as a whole. They found that prostate cancer patients treated with hormones were 21 percent more likely to die from heart disease, 28 percent more likely to die from a heart attack, and also significantly more likely to suffer from other heart problems. The researchers concluded that for every 1,000 men receiving hormone treatments, 10 would suffer a heart problem as a result.

Prior research has shown that prostate cancer patients with a history of heart disease are placed at higher risk of dying when treated with hormones.

Researchers do not know exactly why the hormone therapy places the heart at risk, but they believe that it may disrupt the effects of testosterone, which is thought to help protect the heart.

Hormone therapies for prostate cancer are already known to lead to severe side effects such as impotence and incontinence. In part because of these side effects, the medical establishment is becoming increasingly skeptical of pursuing aggressive treatment for all prostate cancer patients.

Although prostate cancer is second only to lung cancer as a cause of cancer death among men, many prostate tumors are slow-growing, do not spread through the body, and pose no threat to patients.

Approximately 600,000 men in the United States receive hormone treatments for prostate cancer every year.

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