Treating Cancer Could Lead to Diabetes

Prostate cancer therapy may increase type 2 diabetes risks

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) Certain hormones can make prostate cancer worse. One treatment for this type of cancer is to stop these hormones from being made. However, that treatment can put men at risk for diabetes.

Androgen deprivation therapy - a prostate cancer treatment that blocks the hormone called androgen - can put men with prostate cancer at a higher risk of developing diabetes.

"A treatment for prostate cancer raises diabetes risks."

This study adds to findings from past research that androgen deprivation therapy may raise a patient's risk of diabetes.

Androgen deprivation therapy - which is sometimes called medical or surgical castration - is commonly used to treat prostate cancer when it has spread beyond the prostate.

According to Maria Luisa Cecilia Rivera-Arkoncel, M.D., from the Philippine General Hospital and lead author of this study, doctors may be able to help prostate cancer patients avoid diabetes by counseling, screening, and keeping a closer eye on those who are treated with androgen deprivation therapy.

For their study, River-Arkoncel and colleagues compared two groups of Filipino men with prostate cancer: one group of 38 men treated with androgen deprivation therapy and one group of 36 men with less advanced cancer who were not treated with the hormonal therapy. Even though the men's ages in the two groups were not the same, their risks for diabetes were similar.

Studying the medical records of these patients, researchers looked for those with type 2 diabetes or metabolic syndrome - the group of risk factors that increase the risk of heart disease, stroke, and type 2 diabetes.

The researchers found that men with prostate cancer who were treated with androgen deprivation therapy were twice as likely to have diabetes, compared to men who did not receive the hormonal therapy.

Of the men who received the hormonal treatment, 42 percent had diabetes. Only 19 percent of the non-treatment group had diabetes. In addition, 37 percent of the men who received androgen deprivation therapy had metabolic syndrome, compared to 28 percent of those who did not receive the treatment.

Rivera-Arkoncel warns that this study does not prove that androgen deprivation therapy is the root cause of a higher diabetes risk. However, the study does suggest that there is a relationship between the two. More research is needed to see if the hormonal treatment is causing men with prostate cancer to develop diabetes.

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Review Date: 
June 8, 2011
Last Updated:
June 9, 2011