A new study from the University of Illinois in Chicago has established a link between popular testosterone replacement therapy (TRT) drugs and prostate cancer.
And, although additional testing is needed on humans, these early indications are troubling with the increasing use of these medications by millions of men each year.
The results were published in this month’s edition of Endocrinology. In the study, doctors gave one control group of male rats a slow-release dosage of testosterone, while another subject group received a normal testosterone implant.
Astonishingly, 50-71% of the males who received the normal testosterone therapy experienced cancer growth in their prostate, while 10-18% of those who received the slow-release medication developed the disease.
It is important to note that the test only involved male rats and no human study has yet established a link between testosterone drugs and prostate cancer. However, the researchers noted that this current lack of data could be due in part to the fact that prostate cancer is a slow growing disease, while the widespread use of TRT meds is quite new.
At the very least, doctors urged the need for long-period studies to find out if TRT drugs cause prostate cancer in humans.
Earlier this year, the FDA opened an investigation into the safety of testosterone replacement therapy (TRT) drugs after several studies found men who use them may face higher rates of heart attack, stroke and cardiovascular death.
This set off a debate among the industry, with the FDA and several authorities calling for a recall or more severe product warnings.
In the last decade, sales of so-called “low-T” drugs including AndroGel, Testim, Androderm and Axiron have grown over 500%, and are currently estimated at more than $2 billion per year. One cause is the aggressive ad campaigns telling men with normal side effects of aging to seek them out from their doctor. Reports show less than 40% of users actually have low T.
According to the CDC, prostate cancer is the second-leading type of cancer in men in America, with over 200,000 cases diagnosed each year. It is also one of the most common causes of cancer death, with nearly 28,000 cases.
Other risk factors for prostate cancer include diet, advanced age, obesity and African ethnicity.
Bosland, M. Testosterone Replacement Therapy (TRT) May Promote Prostate Tumor Growth. Endocrinology. (October 21, 2014). Retrieved from http://www.renalandurologynews.com/testosterone-therapy-prostate-cancer-tumor-risk/article/378378/
Boyles, S. Testosterone Tx Acts as Prostate Tumor Promoter in Rats. MedPage Today. (October 13, 2014). Retrieved from http://www.medpagetoday.com/Endocrinology/GeneralEndocrinology/48069
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