MAY 11, 2020 1:10 PM PDT

Are antihistamines helpful for cancer?

Research recently published in the research journal Allergy suggests that a common antihistamine could improve survival among patients suffering from malignant melanoma, a dangerous form of skin cancer. The study comes from scientists at Lund University in Sweden. 

"Previous studies have shown that the same antihistamines have survival benefits in breast cancer. Now we see the same thing concerning malignant melanoma. However, more research is required to confirm the results", comments Professor Håkan Olsson. 

The research looked at six antihistamines: desloratadine, cetirizine, loratadine, clemastine, ebastine and fexofenadine. They wanted to see how the allergy drugs would impact patients who had been diagnosed with malignant melanoma. To consider these, they pooled data from three registers in Sweden and analyzed the information for 24,562 individuals.

"We observed improved survival among those who used desloratadine and to a certain extent also loratadine, particularly in the age group 65 and older when we compared with those who had not used antihistamines. The use of the other antihistamines showed no significant survival effect. The use of desloratadine and loratadine also seemed to reduce the risk of getting a new malignant melanoma", says Håkan Olsson.

Photo: Pixabay

The researchers are hopeful about the implications of their study and hope to continue their investigations in order to eventually move into clinical trials. "The finding is interesting for a future drug against melanoma and may also help in advanced stages of the disease. In addition, the medicines have virtually no side effects. We are collaborating with researchers in Barcelona and Stockholm. In Lund, we are underway with studies in both animal and human subjects, in which doses of antihistamines will be compared with the patients who do not take antihistamines, in order to measure the treatment effect", concludes Håkan Olsson.

Sources: AllergyEureka Alert

About the Author
  • Kathryn is a curious world-traveller interested in the intersection between nature, culture, history, and people. She has worked for environmental education non-profits and is a Spanish/English interpreter.
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