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Common Prostate Cancer Treatment Can Cause Alzheimer’s

A fresh study by researchers in the University of Pennsylvania and Stanford University found that men undergoing testosterone-lowering treatment for prostate cancer are twice as likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease.

Androgen hormones stimulate prostate cell growth. Back in 1941, Drs. Charles Huggins and C.V. Hodges found that male hormones, called androgens fuel the development of prostate cancers and that ADT could impede or stop that development. It was a groundbreaking discovery back then.

So what’s the problem? The answer, a treatment called Androgen deprivation therapy (ADT). This treatment is an extremely common prostate cancer treatment. Each year 1.5 million US men undergo this treatment. ADT is given to men with medium risk of advanced prostate cancer.

The article that brought the new study to light was published in the Dec. 7 issue of the Journal of Clinical Oncology. The study reviewed the cases of 16,888 Mt. Sinai Hospital and Stanford prostate cancer patients. The new study specifically focused on 2,397 men who had been treated ADT and another group who had not. Four years was the median time to the diagnosis of Alzheimer’s.

The new study finds low testosterone levels, created by the ADT treatment, may weaken brain’s resistance to Alzheimer’s. In fact, men be treated with ADT are twice as likely to develop Alzheimer’s.

This is not so great news for men who are undergoing ADT treatment for medium risk prostate cancer. Doctors are hopeful that further details from this research will shed light on this issue.

If you are receiving ADT treatment, please contact your doctor to discuss this issue. You and your doctor will be able to review your situation and make an educated decision.