Men who are using androgen deprivation therapy may have a higher risk of kidney injury, according to a new study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association. This type of hormonal therapy is used to treat an advanced, aggressive form of prostate cancer and can help to slow its progression. However, researchers are becoming more and more worried about whether or not this type of treatment is worth the risks for men who have a less advanced form of prostate cancer.
“Our study does raise the concern that perhaps we should be more careful in prescribing androgen deprivation therapy in patients who do not have the clear indication for it… It’s all about the balance, finding the right population for which the benefits clearly outweigh the risks,” said Laurent Azoulay, one of the authors of the study. The study followed 10,250 men diagnosed with prostate cancer between 1997 and 2008 for roughly four years. In total, 232 participants developed an acute kidney injury; this is when there is a quick decline in kidney function.
Azoulay said that the changing levels of hormones may impair renal health and affect the way that the kidneys repair themselves. The research team found that once other health conditions and medicines were taken into account, men who were on hormonal therapy were two to three times as likely to have kidney impairment.
Dr. Vahakn Shahinian, a professor who has studied the effects of hormone treatment at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor who was not involved in the study, commented on the findings. Shahinian told Reuteres that the results were “interesting, but it certainly would require some kind of further validation” before confirming a definite effect. Still, Shahinian said that doctors should be wary about prescribing hormonal therapy.
The study at hand suggests that androgen deprivation therapy may not be necessary in patients who do not have a clear need for it. Shahinian highlighted this, stating that “Where there’s a clear-cut benefit, people should continue to use it and not worry about this…it’s in those settings where there’s an uncertainty about the benefits that you have to be more worried about the side effects. And I think this adds to that list.”