Heart Drug Linked to Cancer
(Ivanhoe Newswire) – For people living with heart arrhythmias, medications to control the unstable heart beat become a part of everyday life. However, one common arrhythmia drug may do patients more harm than good. A recent Taiwanese study discovered the medication amiodarone may increase the risk of cancer, especially in men and individuals with high amounts of the drug in their system.
“When prescribing amiodarone, doctors need to keep in mind that this medication may increase cancer risk,” Vincent Yi-Fong Su, M.D., from the Taipei Veterans General Hospital in Taiwan was quoted as saying.
In the study 6,418 people taking amiodarone were followed for an average of about two and a half years. Controlling for age, sex, and illness, researchers found the cancer risk of individuals taking high amounts of the medication was twice as high as the risk for people taking smaller amounts. Furthermore, if the individual was male and taking high amounts of amiodarone, they were 46% more likely to develop cancer compared to those with neither characteristic.
The reason why higher amounts of amiodarone can be linked with an increased cancer risk is because the medication is fat soluble and degrades slowly. So if someone is taking high concentrations of the drug over a long period of time, amiodarone can actually build up in their soft tissues.
The relationship between cancer risk and amiodarone needs to be studied further, but men or anyone already at a high risk of developing cancer may not want to wait to switch medications.
Source: CANCER, April 2013