Amiodarone Consumption May Increase Cancer Risk: Study

By Staff Reporter on April 8, 2013 8:21 AM EDT

Cancer
Arrhythmia drug may increase cancer risk (Photo: Reuters)

A new study finds that the drug amiodarone used to treat arrhythmia (irregular heartbeat) can cause an increased risk of cancer among people consuming the drug.

Researchers used data of thousands of people and found that those who consumed higher doses of amiodarone, which is sold under the brand name nexterone, would have higher risks of cancer.

For their study, Vincent Yi-Fong Su, of the Taipei Veterans General Hospital in Taiwan, and his colleagues examined data from the Taiwanese National Health Insurance Research Database. They identified 6,418 individuals who were taking amiodarone between 1997 and 2008. Participants were followed for over two and a half years and the researchers tracked other illness or conditions that the participants developed. More than half of the study members were men and the median age was 70, reported MedPage Today.

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They found that 280 people, about 4.5 percent of the participants in the study, developed various types of cancer. According to MedPage Today, patients who had taken amiodarone "had a borderline increased risk of about 10 percent for all cancers with a lag time of about 2 years."

Researchers also found that patients who are male or those who take higher doses - more than 180 cumulative defined daily doses of amiodarone- in the first year were at a higher risk of developing cancer than other people. Patients with both the factors (male and higher doses) were 46 percent more likely to develop cancer than those with neither of the factors.

The research team also considered various factors including age, sex, and illnesses and found that those individuals taking a high amount of amiodarone had nearly twice the risk of developing cancer than those who took a lower amount of the drug.

"We suggest that cancer events should be routinely reported in future amiodarone trials, and further observational research is necessary," Dr Su said in a news release. "Also, when prescribing amiodarone, doctors need to keep in mind that this medication may increase cancer risk."

The findings of the study are published in the journal Cancer.

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