Newer treatments for prostate cancer may raise depression risk

Credit: CC0 Public Domain.

In a new study from the University of Texas, researchers found advanced forms of hormone therapy are very effective at keeping prostate cancer in check, but they also can double a man’s risk of falling into depression, researchers have found.

Prostate cancer patients treated with the latest forms of hormone blockers were twice as likely to develop depression compared with men treated with older forms of hormone therapy or those who received no such medication at all.

It’s a risk that cancer doctors will need to keep in mind when prescribing these drugs to patients.

Prostate cancer feeds on male hormones like testosterone, which are also known as androgens. Doctors have long treated prostate cancer in part by blocking androgen, depriving cancer cells of their fuel.

They now have second-generation anti-androgen drugs like abiraterone and apalutamide that are even better at blocking testosterone than earlier medications.

But a lack of testosterone increases a man’s overall risk of depression, whether or not he has prostate cancer.

Cancer patients are at increased risk of depression anyway, given their battle with a deadly disease. Worse, depression tends to profoundly impact the outlook for cancer patients.

To see how much additional risk of depression comes with the newer androgen blockers, the team analyzed data from nearly 30,100 prostate cancer patients.

They broke the men into three groups⁠—those who received no hormone therapy, those who got the more established medications, and those treated with second-generation anti-androgen drugs.

They found the risk likely increases so dramatically because the second-generation drugs are so much better at their job.

The older drugs do very well in bringing the testosterone levels down, but they only stop testosterone production at the main factory of testosterone, which is the testes.

It will further deprive cells already kind of starved for testosterone of even more of it. That is why it could worsen moods and depression.

The team felt that the depression risk from the newer drugs outweighs their benefits for prostate cancer patients, however.

They say doctors need to be much more cognizant of these long-term side effects. They need to be more prepared to catch early signs of depression.

Family members and friends of prostate cancer patients can help by watching their loved ones as they undergo hormone therapy for signs of depression.

If you care about prostate cancer risk, please read studies that enlarged prostate may actually lower a man’s odds for cancer, and ‘gut bugs’ that could drive prostate cancer growth.

For more information about depression risk, please see recent studies about nutrient supplement that could help lower depression, and results showing that PTSD, anxiety, and depression may not be mental diseases.

The study is published in JAMA Network Open. One author of the study is Dr. Kevin Nead.

Copyright © 2022 Knowridge Science Report. All rights reserved.