Men who receive androgen-deprivation treatment for prostate cancer, in which drugs block the testosterone that fuels their tumors, have a higher risk for dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, HealthDay reports.

This type of prostate cancer treatment is already established as associated with erectile dysfunction, bone loss, cardiovascular disease and obesity. Additional side effects include hot flashes, mood instability, insomnia, headache, high blood sugar and allergic reactions.

Presenting their findings at the American Urological Association in Chicago, Karl Tully, MD, a research fellow at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston and Elizabeth Kavaler, MD, a urology specialist at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City analyzed Medicare data on more than 100,400 men diagnosed with prostate cancer between January 1992 and December 2009.

Compared with not receiving the therapy, ever receiving androgen-deprivation treatment was associated with a 17% increased risk of any type of dementia, a 23% increased risk of Alzheimer’s disease and a 10% increased likelihood of seeking psychiatric treatment. Those who were on androgen-deprivation treatment for six months had a 25% increased risk of any type of dementia and a 37% increased risk of Alzheimer’s. Receiving the hormone therapy for longer than six months raised these relative risks by an even greater extent.

It is possible that factors other than the hormone treatment are actually driving the increased risks for dementia and Alzheimer’s.

To read the HealthDay report, click here.