Men who receive hormone therapy for prostate cancer have a higher risk of suffering from Alzheimer's or dementia, according to a study conducted by researchers from the University of Pennsylvania (United States) and that has been published in the magazine JAMA.
Specifically, of the 154,089 men sampled in the study, 62,330 received androgen deprivation therapy (ADT) during the two years of diagnosis of prostate cancer and 91,759 did not. Of the patients with prostate cancer who received this hormone therapy, 13 percent were later diagnosed with Alzheimer's, compared to 9 percent who did not receive ADT.
Also, 22 percent of patients with prostate cancer who received ADT were diagnosed with dementia, compared to 16 percent who did not receive the therapy. “As far as we know, this is one of the largest studies to date that examined this association and that followed patients for an average of eight years after their diagnosis of prostate cancer,” experts have said.
It has been shown that hormone therapy, which is often used in patients with metastasis or at high risk of relapse, drastically reduces the spread and progression of the disease. The treatment works by reducing the levels of androgens in the body, to prevent them from stimulating the growth of cancer cells in the prostate.
Despite the benefits of ADT, its use has sparked controversy as some evidence suggests that decreasing androgen levels may increase risk factors for Alzheimer's and dementia, including loss of lean body mass, diabetes, cardiovascular diseases and depression. In addition, it has also been seen that it can affect cognitive function by preventing the growth of neurons and the regeneration of axons.
After controlling for several factors, such as other medical conditions, the severity of the disease and sociodemographic characteristics, such as age and marital status, the Penn researchers determined the risk index for patients with prostate cancer who receive hormone therapy.
With all the other factors equal, the research team determined that patients with prostate cancer who receive hormone therapy face a risk relationship that results in an increased risk of developing Alzheimer's and dementia, compared to other patients not exposed to this therapy.