News Feature | February 13, 2014

Digoxin Could Significantly Lower Risk Of Prostate Cancer

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By Marcus Johnson

Digoxin is a widely used drug in Great Britain that costs about one pound per month for end users. It is currently used to treat patients with heart issues, particularly heart failure and abnormal heart rhythms. Digoxin is made from chemicals in foxgloves, a common British plant. The ease of obtaining materials is one of the reasons Digoxin remains inexpensive.

Scientists and researchers in the US have found a potential new application for the drug as a way to reduce risk of developing prostate cancer. Scientists have found that men who take the drug once each day can as much as halve their risk for developing prostate cancer. Researchers believe that Digoxin acts on prostate cancer by reducing the levels of HIF-1 proteins needed for tumor growth. HIF-1 fuels the prostate cancer tumors with oxygen and vital nutrients by improving the growth of nearby blood cells.

Study authors commented, “These findings support the growing evidence that digoxin has potential anti-tumour activity. Larger studies are warranted to evaluate the potential role of the drug in relation to prostate cancer development and progression.” Digoxin was already thought to be a versatile drug, as a 2011 study published by The Prostate found that Digoxin had a strong effect on reducing the risk of breast cancer.

The NHS in Britain issues almost five million prescriptions for Digoxin each year. 40,000 men in Britain are diagnosed with prostate cancer yearly, and one out of every four men will die from it. It is unlikely that Digoxin will be used as a preventative medication, but rather in combination with other treatments when cancer is first diagnosed.