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Regardless of age, men undergoing prostate cancer treatment via androgen deprivation therapy have an increased risk of diabetes and cardiovascular disease. A study published in early December by Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston noted that although androgen deprivation therapy has been associated with a higher risk of diabetes and cardiovascular problems in older men, this is the first time the connection has been noted among men of all ages.
Researchers at the hospital tracked 38,000 men of all ages who had been diagnosed by the Veterans Healthcare Administration as having local or regional prostate cancer. The four-year study, which ran from January 2001 through December 2004, sought evidence that androgen deprivation therapy, using gonadotropin-releasing hormone agonists, increases disease risk among the men. One of the advantages of the large sampling, the researchers noted, was that many of the patients studied were men under the age of 55 and over the age of 75-the age range within which prostate problems most commonly fall.
The researchers found a statistically significant increased risk for diabetes among men being treated with GnRH agonists: 159.4 events per 1,000 person years for men undergoing the therapy, versus 87.5 events per 1,000 person years for men taking no androgen deprivation therapy.
When publishing their findings in the December 7 issue of the Journal of the National Cancer Institute,* the researchers said that additional study is required to more accurately identify the groups that run the highest risk from androgen deprivation therapy and to find ways to mitigate or overcome its negative effects while providing an effective tool against prostate cancer.
(*The Journal of the National Cancer Institute is published by Oxford University Press and is not affiliated with the National Cancer Institute.)
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