November 24, 2017 – Warfarin and Cancer


Anchor lead: Does a common blood thinner reduce cancer risk? Elizabeth Tracey reports

Warfarin, or Coumadin, is a very common blood thinner. Now a new study has linked use of Coumadin to a decreased risk for breast, prostate and lung cancers. William Nelson, director of the Kimmel Cancer Center at Johns Hopkins, says not so fast. Use of Coumadin may be simply a place holder for some other factor in those who are being treated with the drug.

Nelson: What biases are there among people who are taking Coumadin versus people who are not? The first obviously is if you’re taking Coumadin you have some kind of an illness. It’s related to blood clotting or the worry for blood clotting and that does two things. One, it engages you tightly with the health system cause you’re forever going in figuring out whether your blood clotting or warfarin levels effect on blood clotting is too much or too little, and then the health system is going to make decisions with this vigilance, about how hard they’re going to look for cancer.  :31

Nelson says this study does point toward another assessment of the cancer/Coumadin relationship, as well as discernment of how it might work. At Johns Hopkins, I’m Elizabeth Tracey.