Heart drug cuts prostate cancer risk

April 3rd, 2011 - 6:06 pm ICT by IANS  

Washington, April 3 (IANS) Men using the cardiac drug digoxin were found to have a 24 percent lower risk for prostate cancer.

Digoxin, made from the foxglove plant, has been used for centuries in folk medicine and for decades to treat congestive heart failure and heart rhythm abnormalities.

It also emerged as a leading candidate among 3,000 drugs screened by the John Hopkins team for the drugs’ ability to curb prostate cancer cell growth, according to the investigators, the journal Cancer Discovery reports.

Some of the prostate cancer symptoms are blood in the urine or semen, impotence, bone ache, especially in the lower back, hips, or ribs, and loss of bladder control.

Additional research by the team, involving more than 47,000 men, revealed that those who took digoxin for heart disease had a significantly lower risk of prostate cancer, according to a Johns Hopkins statement.

“This is not a drug you’d give to healthy people,” cautions Elizabeth Platz, professor of epidemiology, oncology, and urology at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

Serious side-effects include male breast enlargement and heart rhythm irregularities, and the drug commonly causes nausea, vomiting and headache.

Johns Hopkins assistant professor Srinivasan Yegnasubramanian and professors William G. Nelson and Jun Liu identified 38 compounds already approved by the Federal Drug Agency or with a history of medical use out of a database of more than 3,000.

The 38 candidate drugs reduced prostate cancer cell growth in the laboratory by at least 50 percent. They did not include known chemotherapy drugs among the 38.

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