Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Heart drug cuts prostate cancer risk, holds potential for therapeutic use

Date:
April 3, 2011
Source:
Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions
Summary:
New research suggests that men using the cardiac drug, digoxin, have a 24 percent lower risk for prostate cancer. The scientists say further research about the discovery may lead to use of the drug, or new ones that work the same way, to treat the cancer.

Johns Hopkins scientists and their colleagues paired laboratory and epidemiologic data to find that men using the cardiac drug, digoxin, had a 24 percent lower risk for prostate cancer. The scientists say further research about the discovery may lead to use of the drug, or new ones that work the same way, to treat the 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 Johns Hopkins team for the drugs' ability to curb prostate cancer cell growth, according to the investigators, who published their findings in the April 3 issue of Cancer Discovery.

Additional research, by the team, in a cohort of more than 47,000 men revealed that those who took digoxin for heart disease had a significantly lower risk of prostate cancer. The scientists cautioned, however, that their work does not prove digoxin prevents prostate cancer nor are they suggesting the drug be used to prevent the disease. "This is not a drug you'd give to healthy people," says Elizabeth Platz, Sc.D., M.P.H., 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.

In the first stage of research, Johns Hopkins assistant professor Srinivasan Yegnasubramanian, M.D., Ph.D, Kimmel Cancer Center director and professor William G. Nelson, M.D., Ph.D., and professor Jun Liu, Ph.D., identified 38 compounds already FDA-approved 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.

Nelson and Yegnasubramanian then took the list of 38 drugs to Platz, a prostate cancer research collaborator. "They literally burst into my office and asked, 'Can you look at this list of drug candidates and see if you can study any of them in an epidemiologic cohort?'" recalls Platz.

"We realized that combining our laboratory and epidemiologic approaches could reduce the possibility that results on the candidate drugs might be due to chance," says Platz. "Adding the epidemiology study to the drug screen step provided an assessment of the drug's potential activity in people."

The top hit on the list of anti-prostate cancer drugs, disulfiram, is used to treat chronic alcoholism, but because it is rarely used among the general population, it could not be evaluated effectively in the epidemiologic study. The second candidate was digoxin, they report, which was prescribed often enough to be studied.

To see if they could identify a link between digoxin and prostate cancer in humans, they turned to a cohort of about 47,000 men aged 40-75 who participated in Harvard's Health Professionals Follow-up Study from 1986 through 2006 and did not have a cancer diagnosis before 1986. Study participants had completed a questionnaire every two years, reporting on demographic information, medical history, medication use and lifestyle factors. For men who reported a prostate cancer diagnosis, researchers evaluated their medical records and pathology reports.

Among the study participants, 5,002 cases of prostate cancer were reported. Two percent of all study participants reported regular use of digoxin at the beginning of the study, and those men had a 24 percent lower relative risk of getting prostate cancer compared with men who did not use the drug. Those who used digoxin for more than 10 years had about half the risk of developing prostate cancer as those who did not.

Even after ruling out such potentially "confounding factors" as PSA screening, family history of prostate cancer, and use of other heart drugs, the lower risk of prostate cancer among digoxin users held up, the researchers say.

Platz and Yegnasubramanian say that the next steps will be to determine the mechanism of digoxin's effect on prostate cancer cells, which will support testing digoxin or other drugs that work in the same way in clinical trials as a potential prostate cancer therapy. Digoxin alters enzymatic pathways for sodium and potassium in heart cells, and according to the researchers, may also have an effect on the same or different pathways in prostate cancer.

Funding for the research was provided by the National Cancer Institute, National Institutes of Health, the Patrick C. Walsh Prostate Cancer Research Fund at Johns Hopkins, and the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute.

Additional scientists who conducted the research included Curtis R. Chong and Joong Sup Shim from Johns Hopkins; and Stacey A. Kenfield, Meir J. Stampfer, Walter C. Willett, and Edward Giovannucci from the Harvard School of Public Health and the Channing Laboratory, Department of Medicine, Harvard Medical School and Brigham & Women's Hospital.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Elizabeth A. Platz, Srinivasan Yegnasubramanian, Jun O. Liu, Curtis R. Chong, Joong Sup Shim, Stacey A. Kenfield, Meir J. Stampfer, Walter C. Willett, Edward Giovannucci, William G. Nelson. A Novel Two-Stage, Transdisciplinary Study Identifies Digoxin as a Possible Drug for Prostate Cancer Treatment. Cancer Discovery, 2011; DOI: 10.1158/2159-8274.CD-10-0020

Cite This Page:

Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions. "Heart drug cuts prostate cancer risk, holds potential for therapeutic use." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 3 April 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/04/110403090254.htm>.
Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions. (2011, April 3). Heart drug cuts prostate cancer risk, holds potential for therapeutic use. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 17, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/04/110403090254.htm
Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions. "Heart drug cuts prostate cancer risk, holds potential for therapeutic use." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/04/110403090254.htm (accessed April 17, 2014).

Share This



More Health & Medicine News

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Could Even Casual Marijuana Use Alter Your Brain?

Could Even Casual Marijuana Use Alter Your Brain?

Newsy (Apr. 16, 2014) A new study conducted by researchers at Northwestern and Harvard suggests even casual marijuana use can alter your brain. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Thousands Of Vials Of SARS Virus Go Missing

Thousands Of Vials Of SARS Virus Go Missing

Newsy (Apr. 16, 2014) A research institute in Paris somehow misplaced more than 2,000 vials of the deadly SARS virus. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Formerly Conjoined Twins Released From Dallas Hospital

Formerly Conjoined Twins Released From Dallas Hospital

Newsy (Apr. 16, 2014) Conjoined twins Emmett and Owen Ezell were separated by doctors in August. Now, nearly nine months later, they're being released from the hospital. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Ebola Outbreak Now Linked To 121 Deaths

Ebola Outbreak Now Linked To 121 Deaths

Newsy (Apr. 15, 2014) The ebola virus outbreak in West Africa is now linked to 121 deaths. Health officials fear the virus will continue to spread in urban areas. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins