BY MARK SCHOLZ, MD
a man wants to tilt his odds in favor of a longer life, he wears a seat belt, eats
a good diet, gets an annual medical checkup, exercises and gets married. Yes
you heard me right, he gets married. The
November 2013 issue of the Journal of Clinical Oncology reports that the risk
of dying from prostate cancer was 25% lower in married compared to single men.
one intervention that also has merit and that often gets overlooked is the lowly
aspirin pill. Aspirin is well-established as a beneficial agent for reducing
cardiac risk. It cuts the risk of heart
attacks by about 30%, a rate of reduction similar to common statin medications
like Lipitor and Crestor. A risk
reduction of this degree is notable considering that heart disease is the most
common cause of death in men, especially in men with prostate cancer since most
of them are over age 50.
bring the issue of aspirin to light in this blog because I want to emphasize
that there are further benefits of aspirin beyond the cardiac benefits.
Specifically I want to cite another article published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology in October 2012, which reports that aspirin reduces prostate
cancer mortality rates. Let me paraphrase the main take home message from the
article: The difference in prostate cancer specific mortality between the men
with prostate cancer on aspirin compared to the men with prostate not taking
aspirin was most prominent in patients with high-risk disease. The ten year prostate cancer specific
mortality was only 4% in the men taking aspirin compared to 19% in the men who
were not. For men in the
intermediate-risk group mortality was reduced from 6% down to 3% by taking
in addition to the known cardiac benefits, aspirin also has a potent anticancer
benefit. Incidentally, other studies
have shown that aspirin has an anticancer benefit for other types of cancer
besides prostate cancer.
is not totally risk free. For example,
one out of 200 can get a bleeding stomach ulcer. People taking aspirin who develop black
stools or heart burn should stop and get further medical evaluation. Despite
these risks, aspirin can clearly be beneficial in a large number of people. Just because it is cheap and readily
accessible don’t be fooled into discounting its undeniable value.