April 13, 2011 12:57 ET

International Prostate Cancer Expert Dr. David Samadi Discusses Cardiac Drug Digoxin and Its Positive Effect on Reducing Prostate Cancer Risk

NEW YORK, NY--(Marketwire - Apr 13, 2011) - According to a study by scientists at Johns Hopkins published in the April 3rd issue of Cancer Discover, a journal of the American Association for Cancer Research, men who used a cardiac drug called Digoxin had a 24 percent lower risk for prostate cancer. Digitalis, also called Digoxin, which is made from the foxglove plant, has been used for centuries in homeopathic medicine for congestive heart failure and heart arrhythmia. However, the drug is not proven to prevent prostate cancer development and has significant side effects, according to Dr. David Samadi, a robotic prostatectomy and prostate cancer treatment expert, as well as Vice Chairman, Department of Urology, and Chief of Robotics and Minimally Invasive Surgery at The Mount Sinai Medical Center.

The popularity of Digoxin as a heart condition medication has declined in recent years as a result of newer drugs, but it still remains a viable option for patients. Digoxin alters enzymatic pathways for sodium and potassium in heart cells. This slows the heart rate while improving pumping action, and could potentially do the same for prostate cancer. Dr. Samadi, a robotic surgery expert who is also a urologic oncologist, feels it does show promise for treatment, "However, the next step is conducting tests on the effect on prostate cancer cells."

In the study, researchers screened more than 3,100 compounds, looking for an effect on prostate cancer cells; more than half were already existing drugs. Digoxin inhibited the growth of the cells in vitro. The researchers then tested this effect on 47,884 men from 1986 to 2006. Regular Digoxin users had a 24% lower risk of prostate cancer. Those who had used the drug for more than 10 years had more of a positive effect, with a 46% reduced risk.

Researchers will need to figure out the mechanism behind the effect of the drug on prostate cancer. New drugs could possibly be created to specifically target this mechanism, or perhaps Digoxin can be altered to only focus on the prostate gland. However, said Dr. Samadi, "Digoxin has side effects, so doctors would probably not use it in men with early-stage prostate cancer. It might be better for men with more advanced cancer and fewer suitable prostate cancer treatment options."

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