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Hormone Treatment Drugs for Prostate Cancer Increase Risk of Diabetes and Heart Problems, Says FDA

David Mittleman

Drugs used in hormone treatment for prostate cancer will require warning labels that indicate the drugs increase your risk for developing diabetes or heart problems, including sudden death, says the Food and Drug Administration. The drugs work by suppressing the production of testosterone, which is known to fuel prostate cancer growth.

The drugs are used in a form of treatment known as androgen deprivation therapy, and the drugs form a class of drugs known as gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) agonists. Among the drugs identified as requiring the additional warning labels are Lupron, Zoladex, Eligard, Trelstar, Vantas, Synarel, and their generic variants.

The drugs were approved by the FDA for their ability to relieve symptoms of advanced prostate cancer. However, the drugs drew the concern of doctors in February who wrote in the medical journal Circulation that they felt androgen deprivation treatment was likely to raise the risk of heart attack. They called for studies to determine the level of risk.

By May, the FDA stated that it was reviewing six studies that showed the hormone treatment drugs had a small increased risk of diabetes and heart problems. The increase is considered small, but the FDA still recommends that patients should be regularly monitored for increased blood sugar or possible signs of heart damage.


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