Cardiac glycosides induce apoptotic effects on glioma cells, but whether cardiac glycosides protect against risk for glioma is unknown. We therefore explored the relation between glycoside use and glioma risk using a large and validated database. We performed a case-control analysis using the Clinical Practice Research Datalink involving 2005 glioma cases diagnosed between 1995 and 2012 that were individually matched to 20,050 controls on age, gender, general practice, and number of years of active history in the database. Conditional logistic regression analysis was used to evaluate the association between cardiac glycosides and the risk of glioma adjusting for body mass index and smoking. We also examined use of common heart failure and arrhythmia medications to differentiate between a specific glycoside effect and a generic effect of treatment for congestive heart failure or arrhythmia. Cardiac glycoside use was inversely related to glioma incidence. After adjustment for congestive heart failure, arrhythmia, diabetes, and common medications used to treat those conditions, the OR of glioma was 0.47 (95% CI 0.27-0.81, Bonferroni-corrected p value = 0.024) for use versus non-use of cardiac glycosides, based on 17 exposed cases. In contrast, no associations were noted for other medications used to treat congestive heart failure or arrhythmias. The OR of glioma in people with congestive heart failure was 0.65 (95% CI 0.40-1.04), and for arrhythmia it was 1.01 (95% CI 0.78-1.31). These data indicate that cardiac glycoside use is independently associated with reduced glioma risk.
Keywords: Case-control studies; Epidemiology; Glioma; Glycosides.