Use of mood-stabilizing drug linked with reduced risk of developing head and neck cancer

March 24, 2014, Wiley

A new study indicates that a commonly used mood stabilizing drug may help prevent head and neck cancer. The study is published early online in Cancer, a peer-reviewed journal of the American Cancer Society.

Valproic acid (VPA) is currently prescribed as an anti-seizure medication and mood stabilizer, but it is also being studied as an because it inhibits histone acetyl transferases, which help control gene expression by changing DNA structure.

Johann Christoph Brandes MD, PhD, of the Atlanta Veterans Affairs Medical Center and Emory University in Atlanta, led a team that assessed the anticancer effects of VPA in a study of 439,628 veterans, of whom 26,911 were taking the medication for bipolar disorder, , migraines, and seizures.

Veterans who took VPA for at least one year had a 34 percent lower risk of developing head and compared with those who did not take the medication. Higher doses and longer duration of VPA use seemed to provide additional benefits. No significant differences were observed for lung, bladder, colon, and prostate cancer incidences.

"A 34 percent risk reduction for the development of with VPA use could result in the prevention of up to approximately 16,000 new cases and 3,000 to 4,000 annual deaths in the US alone," said Dr. Brandes. "Head and neck cancer is an important global health crisis, and low cost and low toxicity prevention strategies like VPA use have a high potential impact on pain, suffering, costs, and mortality associated with this disease."

Explore further: Predicting treatment response in central nervous system diseases

More information: "Long-term use of valproic acid in United States Veterans associates with reduced risk of smoking related head-and neck cancer." Hyunseok Kang, Theresa Gillespie, Michael Goodman, Seth Brodie, Mina Brandes, Maria Ribeiro, Suresh Ramalingam, Dong Shin, Fadlo Khuri, and Johann Christoph Brandes. Cancer; Published Online: March 24, 2014 DOI: 10.1002/cncr.28479

Related Stories

Predicting treatment response in central nervous system diseases

June 23, 2012
The commonly-used epilepsy drug, valproic acid (VPA), can have a highly beneficial effect on some babies born with spinal muscular atrophy (SMA), the number one genetic killer during early infancy. But in about two-thirds ...

Free head, neck cancer screenings have positive impact in urban areas

October 2, 2013
Offering free head and neck cancer screenings annually to the community not only has the possibility of early detection, but also the opportunity – particularly in an urban city – to increase a person's understanding ...

Early morning smokers have increased risk of lung and head and neck cancers

August 8, 2011
Two new studies have found that smokers who tend to take their first cigarette soon after they wake up in the morning may have a higher risk of developing lung and head and neck cancers than smokers who refrain from lighting ...

Depression up in post-radiation head and neck cancer survivors

August 16, 2013
(HealthDay)—For post-radiotherapy survivors of head and neck cancer, depression is fairly common, but treatment is underutilized, according to research published online Aug. 15 in JAMA Otolaryngology-Head & Neck Surgery.

Care for head and neck cancer increasingly regionalized

September 7, 2013
(HealthDay)—Care for head and neck cancer is becoming increasingly regionalized, according to research published online Sept. 5 in JAMA Otolaryngology-Head & Neck Surgery.

Recommended for you

How cancer metastasis happens: Researchers reveal a key mechanism

January 18, 2018
Cancer metastasis, the migration of cells from a primary tumor to form distant tumors in the body, can be triggered by a chronic leakage of DNA within tumor cells, according to a team led by Weill Cornell Medicine and Memorial ...

Modular gene enhancer promotes leukemia and regulates effectiveness of chemotherapy

January 18, 2018
Every day, billions of new blood cells are generated in the bone marrow. The gene Myc is known to play an important role in this process, and is also known to play a role in cancer. Scientists from the German Cancer Research ...

These foods may up your odds for colon cancer

January 18, 2018
(HealthDay)—Chowing down on red meat, white bread and sugar-laden drinks might increase your long-term risk of colon cancer, a new study suggests.

The pill lowers ovarian cancer risk, even for smokers

January 18, 2018
(HealthDay)—It's known that use of the birth control pill is tied to lower odds for ovarian cancer, but new research shows the benefit extends to smokers or women who are obese.

Researchers develop swallowable test to detect pre-cancerous Barrett's esophagus

January 17, 2018
Investigators at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine and University Hospitals Cleveland Medical Center have developed a simple, swallowable test for early detection of Barrett's esophagus that offers promise ...

Scientists zoom in to watch DNA code being read

January 17, 2018
Scientists have unveiled incredible images of how the DNA code is read and interpreted—revealing new detail about one of the fundamental processes of life.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.