BOSTON, Dec. 6 (UPI) -- Hormone-blocking therapy for prostate cancer doesn't raise the risk of fatal heart attacks, as some recent studies suggest, U.S. researchers say.
Study leader Dr. Paul Nguyen and Dr. Toni Choueiri of the Dana-Farber/Brigham and Women's Cancer Center in Boston the performed a meta-analysis of randomized studies involving 4,141 prostate cancer patients.
The analysis, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, found no difference in the rate of cardiovascular deaths in men receiving androgen deprivation therapy compared with those who didn't.
The study couldn't rule out that androgen deprivation therapy might elevate the risk of fatal heart attacks in patients with a history of heart disease. Investigators said they plan to look more closely at that population.
"This message should be reassuring for the vast majority of patients considering androgen deprivation therapy," Nguyen said in a statement. "If you need androgen deprivation therapy for your prostate cancer, go ahead and have it. Hormones can save lives."
Androgen deprivation therapy is frequently used in combination with radiation therapy to treat men whose tumors have unfavorable characteristics or have spread beyond the gland. Their side effects include weight gain, insulin resistance and imbalances in blood lipids like cholesterol, all of which are risk factors for cardiovascular disease.