- A new study published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology links use of anti-androgen drugs to a significantly increased risk of Alzheimer's disease (AD). Approximately 500,00 men with prostate cancer in the U.S. take drugs of that type.
- Anti-androgen drugs, such as Lupron and Zoladex, have also been linked with a higher risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, high cholesterol, impotence, loss of muscle mass, depression, breast growth and hot flashes in men.
In the 1990s, anti-androgen drugs, also known as chemical castration drugs, were used more widely before the breadth of unpleasant side effects became apparent. As drawbacks appeared, urologists adopted a 'watchful waiting' approach for men whose tumors were more localized and less likely to be metastatic. Nonetheless, the actual number of men on these drugs has continued to grow.
This new study, conducted using electronic records, found the risk of being diagnosed with AD increased 88% as a result of treatment. Researchers focused on a group of 2,400 men with non-metastatic prostate cancer (out of a pool of 16,888 records) treated with anti-androgen therapy.
The association between treatment and disease is most likely related to the fact that testosterone aids the growth of brain cells and modulates deposition of beta-amyloid. This new data should cause some serious soul-searching among prescribing urologists.