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Painkillers May Lower PSA Cancer Marker

Posted by Jane Akre
Monday, September 08, 2008 11:03 AM EST
Category: Major Medical, Protecting Your Family
Tags: Prostate Cancer, Cancer, FDA and Prescription Drugs, PSA

Aspirin and ibuprofen may reduce PSA markers in the blood.



 IMAGE SOURCE: © WikiMedia Commons/ Created by US government agency National Cancer Institute


Taking an aspirin a day may be confusing the results of the common screening for prostate cancer, according to a new study.

The data was collected on 1,319 men over the age of 40 who took NSAIDs or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, such as ibuprofen and aspirin. A follow-up PSA test for prostate cancer showed levels about 10 percent lower than men who did not take NSAIDs. 

Tylenol, (acetaminophen) also had a similar lowering effect, but not to the same degree.

Previous studies have shown that NSAID use protects against the development of prostate cancer. Dr. Eric Singer, chief resident in urology at the University of Rochester, New York is the lead author of the report in the American Cancer Society’s journal Cancer.

He tells U.S. News that the lowered PSA levels found among NSAID users “raises questions that will have to be answered in a larger clinical trial.”

What’s unclear is whether the NSAIDS are masking prostate cancer or actually lowering the PSA levels. Researchers conclude that doctors should ask patients about all medications they are taking before a screening. 

PSA screenings are usually done in a doctor’s office and test for PSA, a protein produced by cells in the prostate gland. Elevated levels may indicate prostate cancer.

Dr. Singer says it’s not clear yet whether men should be taking the drugs to lower the risk of cancer.   

PSA screening may also be turning up tumors that pose no threat to a man’s life.

Larger ongoing clinical trials currently underway in the U.S. and Europe may answer whether regular PSA screening necessarily saves lives.  Prostate cancer kills about 250,000 men a year worldwide.

A long term follow-up trial might track men who regularly take NSAIDs to see how it affects their risk of prostate cancer.

NSAIDS are drugs with a high anti-inflammatory effect that reduce pain, fever and inflammation. They are not steroids. NSAIDs include aspirin, Motrin, Advil and Aleve, among others.  NSAIDS are made from salicin from the white willow bark, a folk remedy. #

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