Study: Amiodarone Linked to Cancer Risk in Men

A new study has revealed that an increased risk of cancer was seen in men taking the anti-arrhythmia drug, amiodarone. The study also found that the risk was seen to increase in men with more extensive amiodarone exposure

The anti-arrhythmic agent is used for the treatment of a number of different types of cardiac dysrhythmias. Amiodarone was originally produced by Wyeth and sold under the brands Cordarone and Pacerone or the brand, Nexterone, manufactured by Baxter Healthcare Corporation. The drug is administered orally and is also administered by injection, typically in a hospital setting. Amiodarone is used in life-threatening situations and is known to cause side effects that could be fatal and other side effects could continue for months after amiodarone is stopped; it could take up to several months for the medicine to completely clear from the body.

Amiodarone is used to help keep the heart beating normally in people who suffer from life threatening heart rhythm disorders of ventricles. The ventricles are the lower chambers of the heart and enable blood flow out of the organ. The drug is also used to treat or prevent ventricular tachycardia or ventricular fibrillation.

Amiodarone has been associated with numerous, potentially serious, adverse reactions, such as thyroid dysfunction, pulmonary fibrosis, and skin and thyroid malignancies. This meta-analysis suggested a possible cancer link, MedPage Today pointed out.

The study discovered that among men taking amiodarone, cancer risks increased by nearly 20 percent when compared to the general population, according to Chia-Jen Liu, MD, of National Yang-Ming University Hospital in Yilan, Taiwan, and colleagues, said MedPage Today. For men whose annual, cumulative defined daily doses exceeded 180, the risk increased by 46 percent, said the researchers, who reported the results in the online journal, Cancer.

The team analyzed data from the Taiwanese National Health Insurance Research Database to look for the potential cancer association and identified 6,418 patients who received amiodarone from 1997 through 2008, according to MedPage Today. More than half of the subjects were male, the median age was 70, and the median follow-up period was 2.57 years.

In this research, nearly 22,000 person-years were observed and in those person-years,  280 cancers were identified. Patients who had received amiodarone all experienced a borderline increased risk of 10 percent for all cancers and with a so-called “lag” of two years, said MedPage Today.

Women did not seem to experience the increased risk, possibly because they clear the drug quicker than men. Amiodarone has a two-month half-life and can accumulate in tissues, the researchers explained. In men, said MedPage Today, the elevated risk was seen in those who were 20-to-60 years of age and in men over the age of 80.


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