Commonly Used Drugs for Cancer Prevention
Cancers and infectious diseases have much in common. While cancer is the leading cause of death in Canada, infections remain a significant cause of death and suffering, and there is the ever looming spectre of emerging infections, such as SARS. Since one-fifth of cancers result from preventable or treatable infections such as H. pylori, human papillomavirus (HPV) and hepatitis B, infection prevention and treatment may be the most effective ways to deal with many forms of the disease. Similar disease control strategies, including vaccines, chemoprevention and screening, are used against both cancers and infections. Dr. Salaheddin Mahmud, Canada Research Chair in Pharmacoepidemiology and Vaccine Evaluation, is studying whether widely used medications such as aspirin, cholesterol-lowering drugs and antidepressants can prevent prostate, colon, cervical and other major cancers. Mahmud is using information from pharmacy and cancer databases along with interviews from participants, to conduct a number of studies, each of these studies targets a specific cancer and class of medications. He is also assessing the safety and effectiveness of vaccines against diseases caused by HPV, such as cervical cancer. Mahmud’s research could lead to the development of cost-effective strategies for cancer and infection control. It could also improve understanding of how cancer develops, and spur the development of more effective drugs to treat the disease.