A type of immunotherapy called bacillus Calmette-Guérin (BCG) therapy is often given following surgery for bladder cancer that hasn’t grown into the muscle. Since the immune system appears to play an important role in the development of Alzheimer’s disease, scientists have speculated that BCG therapy may help to prevent the disease. A retrospective study of bladder cancer patients published in 2019 found that the use of BCG therapy correlated with a lowered risk for developing Alzheimer's disease. Now, a study by Einstein and Montefiore researchers published online on May 17 in Clinical Genitourinary Cancer supports those findings.
A team led by Alexander Sankin, M.D., reviewed the records of 1,290 racially and ethnically diverse patients treated at Montefiore Medical Center between 1984 and 2020. The 25% of patients who received BCG treatment for non-muscle-invasive bladder cancer had a 60% reduced risk for developing Alzheimer’s disease or other dementias compared with those patients who did not receive BCG. The analysis suggested that BCG’s possibly protective effect against dementia may be stronger in men. The authors noted that larger studies involving more patients are needed to corroborate their findings.
Dr. Sankin is an associate professor of urology at Einstein. The study’s first author was Einstein medical student Joseph Kim.
Posted on: Tuesday, July 06, 2021