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Less testosterone: researchers test cancer drug for pedophilia
According to estimates, there are around a quarter million men in Germany with pedophile tendencies. Experts have so far not agreed on how best to deal with the problem. Swedish researchers are now testing a drug that pedophiles are supposed to take away from having sex with children. The agent is actually used to treat cancer.
Around 250,000 German men with pedophile tendencies
According to estimates, there are around 250,000 men with pedophile tendencies in Germany. However, not every pedophile abuses children and not all sex offenders are pedophiles. Pedophilia is classified in the “International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems” (ICD-10) of the World Health Organization (WHO) as “Sexual Preference Disorder”. Doctors speak of a mental disorder if the urge for a sexual relationship with children is permanent and the pedophile himself is at least 16 years old. According to the current state of research, a pedophile tendency lasts a lifetime and is not curable. It is controversial among experts how the problem should best be dealt with. A prevention program is now being tested in Sweden to make pedophiles want to have children.
"Reduce number of sexual abuse"
As the Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm reports, university researchers have started a study testing a drug that is supposed to take the desire for children out of men with pedophile tendencies. The goal since then has been to "reduce the number of sexual abuse," said study leader Christoffer Rahm. According to the information, the prevention program is largely based on the lowering of testosterone. According to Rahm, high testosterone levels have a significant impact on risk factors of actually abusing a child. The male sex hormone leads, among other things, to a high level of sexual excitability and reduces self-control.
Drug has been used against cancer for a long time
According to a report by the scientific journal Science from the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), the Swedish researchers are using the drug Degarelix, which rapidly reduces testosterone levels. The active ingredient was not specially developed for this treatment, but has been used for a long time against prostate cancer. The 60 volunteer participants in the study, who have sexual fantasies about minors but have never committed abuse, have already completed prevention programs at the Karolinska Institutet or have signed up for the test via a help hotline.
Effect lasts about three months
Half of the test subjects received an injection with Degarelix. Testosterone is no longer measurable after just three days. The effects are said to last about three months. A placebo is injected into the 30 men in the control group, and none of the test participants learn which group they belong to. The study, which is planned to run until 2018, will also investigate whether there are risk patterns in the brain of pedophiles. "The goal is to find objective markers for whether a man with a pedophile tendency actually attacks a child," said study co-author Benny Liberg. In an earlier study by the Kiel sexologist Jorge Ponseti, brain activity showed that pedophiles react more strongly to children's faces than their healthy counterparts.
Behavior should be influenced with medication
In the current study, MRI images capture the brain functions of the study participants while viewing images of half-naked people of all ages. According to the scientists, the brain regions are of particular interest: those for the control of sensory perception, those that monitor your own body and the area that prevents unwanted consequences of behavior. "We want to influence exactly this behavior with pharmaceutical intervention," said brain expert Benny Liberg.
No miracle cure for pedophilia
The Swedish scientists do not see their approach as a miracle cure for pedophilia. Nevertheless, they hope that psychotherapy and other measures can be started in the three months with reduced testosterone levels that can permanently prevent pedophile attacks. In the prevention programs and behavioral therapies that have been in use for a long time, those affected should learn, among other things, to recognize and avoid situations in which they themselves could be dangerous to children. The so-called “chemical castration”, in which medication - as in the current study - suppress the sex drive, has also been used for some time. News from Japan caused a sensation at the beginning of the year. There, special child dolls for pedophiles are sold, which are said to help protect children from assault. However, psychologists disagree as to whether the dolls can actually prevent pedophiles from projecting their fantasies onto real children. (ad)