-- Robert Preidt
MONDAY, March 24, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- A drug used to treat
seizures may reduce the risk of head and neck cancers, a new study
Valproic acid (Depakote) is prescribed to prevent seizures and
also to control mood, but it is also being investigated for cancer
prevention because it inhibits genetic changes that can lead to
The new study included nearly 440,000 U.S. veterans, including
about 27,000 who were taking valproic acid for bipolar disorder,
post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), migraines and seizures.
Overall, veterans who took the drug for at least one year were 34
percent less likely to develop head and neck cancers than those who
didn't take the drug, the investigators found.
The risk appeared to be even lower in those who took it in
higher doses or for longer periods of time, according to the study
published online March 24 in the journal
Veterans who took valproic acid did not have a reduced risk for
lung, bladder, colon or prostate cancers, said team leader Dr.
Johann Christoph Brandes, of the Atlanta Veterans Affairs Medical
Center and Emory University in Atlanta, and colleagues.
"A 34 percent risk reduction for the development of head and neck cancer with [valproic acid] use could result in the prevention of up to approximately 16,000 new cases and 3,000 to 4,000 annual deaths in the U.S. alone," Brandes said in a journal news release.
"Head and neck cancer is an important global health crisis, and low cost and low toxicity prevention strategies like [valproic acid] use have a high potential impact on pain, suffering, costs, and [death] associated with this disease," he added.
Although the study found an association between valproic acid
use and reduced risk of certain cancers, it did not prove
The U.S. National Cancer Institute has more about
head and neck cancers.
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