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Dr. Gregory Pais, ND
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Home arrow Blog arrow RHEUMATOID ARTHRITIS, CANCERS, AND METHOTREXATE
RHEUMATOID ARTHRITIS, CANCERS, AND METHOTREXATE
Incidence of melanoma and other malignancies among rheumatoid arthritis patients treated with methotrexate. Arthritis Rheum 2008 May 30;59(6):794-799.
Patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) treated with methotrexate are at an increased risk for lung cancer, melanoma, and non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. This according to the results of a study reported in the June 15 2008 issue of Arthritis Care & Research.

The goal of this study was to determine the cancer risk in all patients diagnosed with RA who started taking methotrexate before June 1986. Data from these patients were matched to the State Cancer Registry to identify all malignant neoplasms (except for nonmelanocytic skin cancer) from 1983 to 1998 and to the National Death Index to identify all deaths to the end of 1999. Follow-up began on the date when methotrexate was first given and ended at death or on the last confirmed date on which the patient was seen by the rheumatologist. "Compared with the general population, methotrexate-treated RA patients have an increased incidence of melanoma, non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, and lung cancer," the study authors write.

There was an estimated 50% excess risk for cancer among patients with RA exposed to methotrexate versus the general population, with a 3-fold increase in melanoma, a 5-fold increase in non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, and an almost 3-fold increase in lung cancer.

One of the main effects of the drug methotrexate is to cause folic acid (a B vitamin) deficiency. Among its many critical activities folic acid is involved in DNA expression in the nucleus of the cell. I've never thought this risk was outweighed by perceived benefit. But this incredibly toxic drug will keep being prescribed and there will be a 50% (50%!!) increased cancer risk in those who take it. Those odds make me cringe. Especially when there are hygienic and homeopathic options that are seldom explored.

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