Drug reduces the risk of child sexual abuse

April 29, 2020

A drug that lowers levels of the male hormone testosterone in the body reduces the risk of men with pedophilic disorder sexually abusing children, a study from Karolinska Institutet published today in the journal JAMA Psychiatry shows.

About one in ten girls and one in twenty boys are sexually abused, primarily at the hands of men with pedophilic disorder. Despite law enforcement, technical and political initiatives, the rate of child sexual abuse continues to rise, above all that committed online. There is therefore a pressing need for effective and scientifically proven treatments for people at risk of committing sexual offence.

Researchers at Karolinska Institutet and Gothenburg University in Sweden have now evaluated the effect of a drug called degarelix, which is approved for the treatment of prostate cancer. The drug acts by switching off the production of testosterone, reducing within a matter of hours the levels of the hormone in the body, and is administered by injection every three months.

The double-blinded study included 52 men with pedophilic disorder in Sweden, who were randomly assigned to a degarelix or a placebo group. Treatment with degarelix was shown to dampen two critical risk factors for committing abuse: high sexual desire and sexual attraction to children. The effects were noticeable within two weeks.

"It's important to be able to offer a relatively fast-acting treatment, and the patients' own experiences of the drug were overall positive," says study leader Christoffer Rahm, chief psychiatrist at Psykiatri Södra Stockholm and researcher at the Department of Clinical Neuroscience, Karolinska Institutet.

Above all, the men described positive effects on their sexuality. Many reported that they felt an inner calm, that thoughts of sex were no longer dominant and that they lost their sexual interest in children. A majority wanted to continue on the drug after the study was over.

"This study is an important step towards an evidence-based treatment for pedophilic disorder," says Dr Rahm. "We're now planning a new study to assay the longer term effects of the drug and to compare them with psychotherapy."

All participation was voluntary and the men were recruited via Preventell, a national helpline initiated by ANOVA, an andrology, sexual medicine and transmedicine clinic at Karolinska University Hospital in Sweden. The helpline was set up to prevent sexual abuse and violence by fast-tracking people with dangerous or undesired sexuality into specialised treatment.

While some of the participants in the degarelix group developed hot flashes and reactions at the injection site, conclusions about any mental side-effects were hard to draw since many of the participants were already in a depressive state even before the study started. See the scientific article for a full list of effects and adverse reactions.
-end-
The study was financed by the Swedish Society of Medicine, the Söderström-Königska Foundation, the Fredrik and Ingrid Thuring Foundation, the Centre for Psychiatric Research at Karolinska Institutet (Department of Clinical Neuroscience), the Gothenburg Society of Medicine, Skaraborg Hospital research unit, Region Stockholm (ALF funding), and the Swedish Society for Medical Research. Knowledge partner ECPAT Sweden.

Publication (open access): "Effect of Gonadotropin-Releasing Hormone Antagonist on Risk of Committing Child Sexual Abuse in Men With Pedophilic Disorder: A Randomized Clinical Trial". Valdemar Landgren, Kinda Malki, Matteo Bottai, Stefan Arver, Christoffer Rahm. JAMA Psychiatry, online 29 April 2020, doi: 10.1001/jamapsychiatry.2020.0440.

Karolinska Institutet

Related Testosterone Articles from Brightsurf:

ACP issues guideline for testosterone treatment in adult men with age-related low testosterone
Physicians should prescribe testosterone for men with age-related low testosterone only to treat sexual dysfunction, the American College of Physicians (ACP) says in a new evidence-based clinical practice guideline.

Women with asthma appear more likely to have lower levels of testosterone
Women with asthma appear more likely to have lower levels of 'free' (not attached to proteins) testosterone than women who do not have asthma, according to new research published online in the American Thoracic Society's American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine.

Penis development needs more than just testes and testosterone
Proper development of the fetal penis requires not just testosterone from the testes, but a second hormone produced by other tissues, including the placenta, according to a new study publishing Feb.

Testosterone treatment over 10 years can improve or reverse type 2 diabetes in men with low testosterone, and induce significant weight loss
New research presented at this year's annual meeting of the European Association for the Study of Diabetes (EASD) reveals that in men with low testosterone who have type 2 diabetes (T2D), testosterone therapy can improve their disease and reverse its progress, and can also induce significant weight loss.

Testosterone replacement therapy may slow the progression of COPD
GALVESTON, Texas -- Researchers from The University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston found that testosterone replacement therapy may slow disease progression of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

Testosterone research brings new hope for cancer patients
Approximately 20 percent of cancer related deaths are attributed to the syndrome of cachexia.

Testosterone prescriptions have sharply dropped in the past few years
Testosterone use in the United States tripled between 2001 and 2011, mostly in men without a clear indication for it.

Use of prescribed testosterone therapy in US decreases in recent years
Testosterone use in the United States tripled from 2001 through 2011, mostly in men without a clear indication.

Testosterone causes men to desire luxury goods
Researchers examine testosterone's effect on men's desire for goods that are considered to have social cachet.

Men's testosterone levels largely determined by where they grow up
Men's testosterone levels are largely determined by their environment during childhood, according to new research.

Read More: Testosterone News and Testosterone Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.