A common therapy for prostate cancer appears to increase the risk of broken bones. The risk of bone fractures was found to be as much as 54% higher in older men undergoing androgen-depri-vation therapy. Androgen deprivation consists of reducing levels of the male hormone testosterone, either through surgical castration or through pharmaceutical means.
Several studies have shown that testosterone-lowering drugs, called gonado-tropin-releasing hormone agonists, reduce bone mineral density and increase the risk of osteoporosis. The new study included 50,613 men older than 66 years of age.
More than 40% of patients with prostate cancer undergo this therapy, and approximately 3,000 excess fractures are caused by the treatment every year.
Although reducing androgen levels can help prolong the lives of patients with advanced prostate cancer, the advantages remain uncertain in patients with less aggressive tumors that are confined to the prostate gland.
For patients who opt for androgen deprivation, regular bone density tests and vitamins or drugs that fight osteoporosis are recommended.