Baltimore: A drug made from foxgloves could help prevent prostate cancer, US researchers have found.
Called digoxin is already used to treat congestive heart failure and abnormal heart rhythms. But scientists from the John Hopkins University in Baltimore have found that it lowered the risk of prostate cancer by 24 per cent by stopping the growth of the disease.
The team looked at the medical reports of 47,000 men, aged 40 to 75 who were monitored from 1986 to 2006. Men who regularly took the drug – 2% – reduced their risk by 24%. But the scientists emphasised that there was no proof that it prevents the disease, they said in the Cancer Discovery Journal.
Giving it to healthy people as a preventative measure would not be an option since it does have serious side-effects including nausea, headaches and male breast enlargement.
Scientists began by screening more than 3,000 compounds already approved for medical use to see if any inhibited the growth of prostate cancer cells.
A team of epidemiologists then looked for evidence of the drug combating prostate cancer in the patient health study. Among the group, around 5,000 new cases of prostate cancer were reported.
Using digoxin for more than 10 years cut the risk of prostate cancer by half. Work will continue to discover the mechanism of digoxin’s effect and see whether the drug or others like it should be tested as prostate cancer treatments.
Digoxin alters biological pathways for sodium and potassium in heart cells. Scientists believe it may act on similar pathways in prostate cancer cells