Prostate cancer and blood clot risk

Men with prostate cancer have a greater risk of potentially life-threatening blood clots, a new study has found.

And men undergoing hormone therapy for their condition have the highest risk.

Although it’s well known that having cancer increases the risk of developing blood clots, little is known about the risk associated with prostate cancer alone.

Researchers from King’s College London and international partners analysed data from over 75,000 Swedish men with prostate cancer receiving different types of treatment between 1997 and 2007. During this time 1881 men developed blood clots.

Overall, the findings, published in Lancet Oncology, showed that men with prostate cancer were significantly more likely to develop blood clots in the legs and lungs than men without prostate cancer.

prostate cancer
Prostate cancer

In addition, men undergoing hormone therapy therapy were two-and-a-half times more likely to have a blood clot in the leg, and nearly twice as likely to develop one in the lungs compared with the general population.

The risk was especially high for younger men – less than 65 years old – and for men with advanced prostate cancer.

The researchers suggest the increased risk of blood clots is likely to be due to a combination of factors such as the cancer itself, age and the type of treatment for the condition.

Dr Helen Rippon, Head of Research Management at The Prostate Cancer Charity said it was not surprising that the researchers had found a greater risk of blood clots in men with prostate cancer. She also said: “It is important to remember that the researchers have simply discovered a relationship between hormone therapy and blood clots.

“This does not prove that one causes the other and there may be many other factors at work that could explain this relationship.

“Men on hormone therapy should not be unduly worried as a result of this research. Hormone therapy has clear, proven clinical benefits and can keep advanced prostate cancer at bay for months or even years.

“The results of the study certainly do not suggest that hormone therapy should be stopped or not offered to men who would normally be expected to benefit from it in treating their cancer.

“Doctors always make treatment recommendations taking into account each man’s own medical history, and make judgements about the possible risks and benefits of this treatment on an individual basis.

“We urge any man on hormone therapy who is concerned that he might be at greater risk of blood clots to speak to his specialist before making any decisions about whether to continue with the treatment,” she added.

NHS watchdog NICE calls for trans-fats ban

More than 40,000 Britons are dying unnecessarily every year because of high levels of salt and fat in their diets, the Government’s public health watchdog Nice has warned.

The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (Nice) says that unhealthy foods have wreaked a “terrible toll of ill health” on the nation and placed a “substantial” strain on the economy.

For the first time, the organisation publishes landmark guidance on how to prevent the “huge number of unnecessary deaths” from conditions such as heart disease that are linked to the consumption of ready meals and processed food.

The NHS watchdog NICE is calling for trans-fats to be eliminated from food in England.

The artificial fats are often found in biscuits, cakes and fast food – but they can damage health.

NICE is also pressing for further reductions in salt and saturated fats, to help prevent deaths from cardiovascular disease.

The British food industry said it was already leading the world in promoting healthier production.

Cardiovascular disease, which comprises heart disease and stroke, is the biggest cause of death in the UK.

Experts who worked on the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) guidelines say 40,000 of the 150,000 annual deaths are “eminently preventable”.

They believe that reducing salt and saturated fats, as well as banning trans-fats, would save the NHS more than £1bn.

The group’s vice-chairman, Professor Simon Capewell, who is a public health physician in Liverpool, said: “Everyone has the idea that prevention is worthy, but takes decades to be fulfilled.

“We were pleasantly surprised when we looked into this.

“We found evidence from Poland, the Czech Republic and Cuba that changes in diet can lead to results with improved health in two to three years.”