Prostate Cancer Hormone Therapy May Increase Heart Risk
Article date: August 4, 2010
While hormone therapy is beneficial for many men with prostate cancer, there is growing concern that it may increase heart disease risk factors, according to a report by leading health organizations.
Hormone therapy is most often prescribed to men whose prostate cancer has spread to other parts of the body. For some less advanced cancers, it may also be used before or along with other treatments such as surgery or radiation therapy, to try to make these treatments work better. Some doctors may also prescribe hormone therapy for older men or those with serious health problems who have early stage cancers, as an alternative to “active surveillance” or “watchful waiting” (see keywords section of this newsletter). Hormone therapy does not cure prostate cancer, but it can shrink prostate tumors or slow their growth.
However, taking these drugs can come with some difficult side effects: low sex drive, impotence, loss of muscle mass, and fatigue, among other things. Hormone therapy (also called androgen deprivation therapy, or ADT) has also been shown to increase body fat, raise low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol (the "bad" cholesterol), and cause blood sugar abnormalities – all of which can contribute to heart problems.
And in a recent report, experts reviewed current published research on the topic and found that ADT use may increase the risk of heart disease and possibly the risk of cardiac death. More research must be done, the authors concluded.
In the meantime, men and the doctors treating them for prostate cancer should discuss the risks and benefits of treatment. Given the possible effects of ADT on heart disease risk factors, men might also want to follow up with their primary care doctor within a few months of starting treatment. If you're taking hormone therapy and currently have heart disease risk factors, talk to your doctor about whether taking additional preventative measures, such as adopting a healthier lifestyle and/or or starting on appropriate medications, might be right for you.
Reviewed by: Members of the ACS Medical Content Staff
ACS News Center stories are provided as a source of cancer-related news and are not intended to be used as press releases.
Thank you for your feedback.