Aspirin May Cut Enlarged Prostate Risk
Other Anti-Inflammatory Drugs May Also Help Prevent Common Problem in Men
Aug. 30, 2006 -- An enlarged prostate is
almost a rite of passage for men as they age, but a daily aspirin may cut the
risk of this common problem.
Men who reported daily use of aspirin or other anti-inflammatory drugs, such
as ibuprofen and naproxen, were 25% less likely to develop moderate to severe
enlarged prostate symptoms.
The findings suggest that anti-inflammatory drugs may prevent or delay
development of an enlarged prostate, according to researcher Jennifer St.
Sauver, PhD, and colleagues.
2 Birds With 1 Aspirin
Doctors aren't advising men to start taking aspirin or other
anti-inflammatory drugs for prostate health.
"We would not recommend that every man go out and take aspirin," St.
Sauver says, in a Mayo Clinic news release.
"But if they are already taking it regularly for other reasons, our
findings suggest another benefit as well," she adds.
Besides easing pain, aspirin is often taken to cut heart and stroke. But aspirin and
other anti-inflammatory drugs come with their own risks, including stomach
irritation, bleeding, and ulcers.
Although the exact risk is unclear, long-term use of anti-inflammatory drugs
other than aspirin has been linked to an increase in heart
attack and stroke risk. Prescription anti-inflammatory drugs now
carry a warning about that risk.
Patients should talk to their doctors about the risks and benefits of taking
aspirin or other anti-inflammatory drugs.
Enlarged prostate is the most common prostate problem. As men age, they're
more likely to develop the condition, which is known by doctors as BPH, or
benign prostatic hyperplasia.
Many men with an enlarged prostate have no symptoms. Symptoms that may
develop include difficulty starting a urine stream, weak urine flow, the urge
to urinate frequently, and possibly pain during urination.
Michael Lieber, MD, a Mayo Clinic urologist who worked on the study,
describes the problem.
"The typical scenario with benign prostatic hyperplasia is that men
start getting up three to five times a night to urinate, and their wives
ultimately force them to go see a urologist," Lieber says, in the Mayo
Clinic news release.
Doctors don't know exactly how BPH develops, but inflammation may be part of
the process. Anti-inflammatory drugs, such as ibuprofen and naproxen, are often
used to treat arthritis
inflammation. Their anti-inflammatory effect may also help an enlarged
Daily aspirin, which is also an anti-inflammatory drug, is commonly used to
help decrease the risk of heart disease
Enlarged Prostate Study
The study, published in the American Journal of Epidemiology, comes
from the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn.
St. Sauver and colleagues studied 2,447 Minnesota men aged 40-79 for 12
Their study was purely observational. That is, the researchers checked the
men's medical records and drug use. But they didn't ask the men to take aspirin
or other anti-inflammatory drugs.
Every two years, the men completed surveys about their daily use of
anti-inflammatory drugs and other prescription and over-the-counter
At the study's start, a third of the men reported taking anti-inflammatory
drugs daily. Eighty percent of those men reported taking daily aspirin.
The researchers also checked the men's medical records and screened 634
participants for BPH every other year.
Men who reported taking anti-inflammatory drugs daily at the study's start
were about 25% less likely to develop moderate to severe BPH symptoms.
This held true even after accounting for age, which also increases BPH.
The results were generally stronger for aspirin than other anti-inflammatory
drugs, the researchers note. They call for more studies to check their