In a new study, researchers found that older prostate cancer patients who received a hormone-blocking treatment may have a higher risk of Alzheimer’s disease.
The research was conducted by a team from the University of Pennsylvania.
Hormone-blocking treatment includes testes removal to reduce levels of testosterone that fuels prostate cancer growth.
But it more typically involves periodic drug injections or implants that achieve the same result.
Many U.S. men in their 70s or older receive this treatment. It’s sometimes used in men who might not be healthy enough to tolerate other cancer treatments.
Previous research has shown mixed results on whether the treatment might be linked with mental decline.
The new results are from a respected national cancer database and the patients were tracked for a long time—eight years on average. These make the evidence stronger.
In the study, the team analyzed data from a National Cancer Institute database of cancer cases and treatment and covers almost 30% of the U.S. population.
Patients were men in their 70s with local or advanced prostate cancer diagnosed between 1996 and 2003. They were followed until 2013. Their medicare records indicated dementia or Alzheimer’s diagnosis.
The researchers found that in154,000 older patients, 13% who received hormone-blocking treatment developed Alzheimer’s, compared with 9% who had other treatment or chose no therapy.
In addition, the risk for dementia from strokes or other causes was higher: It was diagnosed in 22% of those who got hormone-blocking treatment, versus 16% of the other patients.
The team says these findings underscore the importance of discussing potential risks and benefits when choosing cancer treatment.
The treatment may lead to diabetes, which also has been linked with dementia. In addition hormone treatment also raises risks for heart disease and depression, which both have been linked to dementia.
The lead author of the study is Ravishankar Jayadevappa, Ph.D.
The study is published in JAMA Network Open.
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