Increased Risk of Osteoporosis and Obesity in Men with Prostate Cancer

Increased Risk of Osteoporosis and Obesity in Men with Prostate Cancer Treated with Androgen Deprivation Therapy

According to a recent article published in the journal Cancer, men with prostate cancer being treated with androgen deprivation therapy have an increased risk of osteoporosis and obesity.

The prostate is a walnut-sized male sex gland that is located between the bladder and rectum. The prostate is responsible for secreting a substance that forms a component of semen. Treatment options are varied for patients with prostate cancer, often depending upon the stage, or extent, of the disease. One component of therapy for prostate cancer is called androgen deprivation therapy (ADT), in which levels of male hormones, particularly testosterone, are reduced in the body. ADT can be achieved through the surgical removal of the testicles or through drugs that suppress levels of male hormones (hormone therapy) in the body. Male hormones have growth stimulatory effects on prostate cancer cells. Researchers are continuing to evaluate scheduling of ADT in order to provide optimal results in the treatment of prostate cancer.

ADT tends to produce side effects caused by the reduction of naturally occurring male hormones such as hot flashes, impotence, adverse effects on the cardiovascular system and osteoporosis (reduction in bone density). To gain more insight on the side effects caused by ADT, researchers from the University of Arizona recently compared data involving side effects of ADT. The study included between men with prostate cancer who were being treated with ADT and men not being treated with ADT (control group). Obesity was present in 43% of men treated with ADT, compared to only 27% of men in the control group. Additionally, low bone mineral density was present in 20% more men treated with ADT than in the control group.

The researchers concluded that patients with prostate cancer treated with ADT are at a higher risk for osteoporosis and obesity. Appropriate preventive measures or close monitoring of these patients may help to prevent or reduce these side effects. Patients who are being treated with ADT or who are to begin receiving ADT may wish to speak with their physician about their increased risk for osteoporosis and obesity and how to reduce this risk.

Reference: Chen Z, Maricic M, Nguyen P, et al. Low bone density and high percentage of body fat among men who were treated with androgen deprivation therapy for prostate carcinoma.

Cancer. 2002;95:2136-2144.

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