A widely used treatment for prostate cancer, androgen-deprivation therapy (ADT), may double the risk of Alzheimer's disease, a new study warns.
Researchers from Stanford University and the University of Pennsylvania studied the medical records of nearly 17,000 male patients diagnosed with non-metastatic prostate cancer. They found that men who underwent ADT for more than one year had increased risk of developing Alzheimer's.
"In this study, we did find that men who received hormone therapy had about an 88 percent increased risk of Alzheimer's disease," senior author of the study Dr. Kevin Nead of the University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine said.
Alzheimer's disease affects around 5.3 million Americans and it is now considered the sixth leading cause of death in the United States. Of the ten top causes, it is considered the only disease that cannot be prevented, cured or slowed.
In the retrospective cohort study published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology, patients' medical records at Stanford University and Mt. Sinai hospitals were analyzed by the researchers. Among all the participants, 2,397 men received ADT and 14,491 did not.
The researchers found that in patients who had taken ADT for more than one year, the risk of having the neurodegenerative disease was higher.
"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 study authors wrote in the study.
"This study demonstrates the utility of novel methods to analyze electronic medical record data to generate practice-based evidence," they added.
ADT, which mainly includes testosterone-inhibitors, has a battery of side effects that mostly involves mental and emotional balance. It causes hot flashes, decreased sexual drive, emotional disturbance, depression, headache, abdominal discomfort, mood swings, loss of muscle mass, fatigue, and cognitive impairment.
Prostate cancer is the third most common cancer in the United States, accounting for 13.3 percent of all new cancer cases in 2015. This year there is an estimated 220,800 new cases of prostate cancer and around 27,540 people will die of this disease.