Testosterone Tied to Memory

Prostate cancer patients who were deprived of it forgot things faster than healthy men

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THURSDAY, Oct. 28, 2004 (HealthDayNews) -- Men who are given testosterone-deprivation treatment for prostate cancer forget things faster than healthy men, says a study by Oregon Health & Science University researchers.

The researchers found that word retention among men undergoing testosterone deprivation decreased rapidly only two minutes after they learned words, even though they were able to initially learn words as well as healthy men.

This rapid decline in memory suggests that the lack of testosterone impacts the function of the hippocampus, the part of the brain that controls learning and memory.

"When you look at their memory, they're perfectly normal when they're immediately asked to recall something, but they can't hold or save the information as well in order to recall it over a retention interval, over a period of time. They're faster at forgetting," study co-author Jeri Janowsky, a professor of behavioral neuroscience and neurology, said in a prepared statement.

The study included 14 men undergoing testosterone-deprivation therapy for prostate cancer and 16 healthy men. The findings were presented at this week's Society for Neuroscience annual meeting in San Diego.

In their next step, the researchers will use brain imaging to assess hippocampus function in men undergoing testosterone deprivation therapy. This treatment involves surgical removal of the testicles or the use of drugs to block the production of testosterone and other male hormones that promote prostate cancer growth.

More information

The U.S. National Cancer Institute has more about prostate cancer treatments.

SOURCE: Oregon Health & Science University, news release, Oct. 25, 2004

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