Hormone drugs for prostate cancer may hurt heart

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Prostate cancer treatments that cut off the supply of male hormone raise cholesterol, worsen blood sugar and make men fatter and thus likely raise the risk of heart attack, too, doctors said on Monday.

An advisory published in the American Heart Association’s journal Circulation recommends that doctors keep a close eye on men they treat with so-called androgen deprivation therapy and help them avoid trading cancer for heart disease.

The American Heart Association, American Cancer Society, American Urological Association and American Society for Therapeutic Radiology and Oncology joined forces to write the advisory.

“Based on current data, it was appropriate to conclude that there may be a relationship between androgen deprivation therapy in patients with prostate cancer and future cardiovascular risk,” Dr. Glenn Levine of Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, who chaired the group of experts, said in a statement.

The doctors said studies need to be set up to determine just what the risk is to men.

Heart disease is the No. 1 cause of death in the United States and other developed countries, but cancer is the second leading cause of death and prostate cancer is the No. 2 cancer killer of men, after lung cancer.

The group said prostate cancer patients with known heart disease should always be encouraged to adopt healthy lifestyle changes and receive any needed drugs such as cholesterol-lowering drugs, blood pressure pills, blood thinners including aspirin and diabetes drugs.

Prostate cancer, which kills 254,000 men a year globally, is usually treated with surgery or radiation but advanced cases may require chemotherapy or hormone therapy -- so-called chemical castration to stop hormones that can fuel tumor growth.

Reporting by Maggie Fox; editing by Mohammad Zargham