Mood-stabilizing drug could lower chance of head, neck cancers
A drug typically prescribed for mood stabilization—called valproic acid, or VPA—may help reduce risk of head and neck cancer, according to a new study.
Scientists from the Atlanta Veterans Medical Center and Emory University in Atlanta collected and analyzed data from the National Veterans Affairs (VA) Medical SAS data set linked to the VA Central Cancer Registry. Out of the nearly 440,000 veterans involved in the study, more than 26,000—or about 6 percent—were taking VPA for various disorders, including bipolar and post-traumatic stress disorder.
The results of the study, published in the journal Cancer, showed that the veterans who had been taking VPA for one year or longer had a 34 percent lower risk of developing head and neck cancer than those who did not take any VPA. According to the research team, a 34 percent risk reduction could mean head and neck cancer being prevented in 3,000 to 4,000 people in the U.S.
The biggest limitation of the study, according to researchers, was that they were unable to determine the optimal dosage and duration for which VPA should be taken in order to best reduce cancer risk. They said that with further research, new potential treatments could affect mortality rates, costs and pain associated with head and neck cancer.