Mar. 13, 2002 ROCHESTER, MINN. -- A Mayo Clinic study suggests that regular use of aspirin, ibuprofen and other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) may help protect against prostate cancer, the second leading cause of cancer death among men in the United States.
The study found that men age 60 and older who used NSAIDs daily reduced their risk of prostate cancer by as much as 60 percent. The study also suggested that the beneficial effect may increase with age.
The findings of this study are published in the March issue of Mayo Clinic Proceedings.
The 1,362 Caucasian men in this study were followed for an average of five and one-half years. Of the 569 men who reported using NSAIDs daily, 23 developed prostate cancer, compared with 68 of 793 men in the same study who did not use NSAIDs daily and developed the disease.
"These numbers mean the proportion of men who used NSAIDs daily and developed prostate cancer was about one-half that of men who did not use NSAIDs daily -- four percent compared to nine percent," says Rosebud Roberts, M.D., a Mayo Clinic epidemiologist and lead researcher on the study.
"Further, the association between NSAIDs and prostate cancer appears to be stronger in older men," says Dr. Roberts. "The risk of prostate cancer among NSAID users was 12 percent lower in men age 50 to 59 years, 60 percent lower in men 60 to 69 years, and 83 percent lower in men age 70 to 79 years compared to men in those same age groups who did not use NSAIDs daily."
The results may mean good news for men, but Dr. Roberts cautions that more research needs to be done.
"Although our findings provide important information that NSAIDs may protect against prostate cancer, they are not conclusive," says Dr. Roberts.
"More research needs to be done to show that the results we saw in our study were not unique to our study but can be confirmed in other similar studies," she said. "We also need to determine the duration and dosage use that provides protection against prostate cancer and to better understand the biologic mechanisms underlying the association between NSAIDs and prostate cancer."
Dr. Roberts added that since the study included only Caucasian men in southeastern Minnesota, it’s not known whether the findings apply to men of all races.
"African American men have the highest risk of prostate cancer," said Dr. Roberts. We need to complete additional research to determine if these findings are applicable to them."
Should a man age 50 or older take an aspirin, ibuprofen or another NSAID every day based on the study’s findings?
"Men should discuss the study with their doctors and follow their doctor’s advice, but they should not start taking NSAIDs solely on the basis of our findings," says Dr. Roberts.
"While our findings complement previous studies that NSAIDs help protect against breast and colon cancers, and possibly against prostate cancer, there are also negative side effects of NSAIDs that need to be considered and monitored in people who take NSAIDs on a daily basis," she says.
About 189,000 men in the United States will be diagnosed with prostate cancer this year. About 30,200 men will die of the disease.
This study was part of a larger Mayo Clinic study that monitored lower urinary tract symptoms in 2,115 men from Olmsted County of southeastern Minnesota. The men ranged in age from 40 to79 years at the onset of the study in 1990.
The findings about the association between prostate cancer and NSAIDs are based on information obtained from a subset of 1,362 men in the study who were age 50 years and older in 1990. These men reported using 40 different prescription and over-the-counter NSAIDs at the beginning of the study and during follow-up.
Mayo Clinic Proceedings is a peer-reviewed and indexed general internal medicine journal, published for 75 years by Mayo Foundation, with a circulation of 130,000 nationally and internationally.
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