The co-authors of Invasion of the Prostate Snatchers, blog alternate posts weekly. We invite you to post your comments.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Aspirin Lowers Prostate Cancer Mortality Rates


If 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.

Yet 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.

I 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 aspirin.

So, 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.

Aspirin 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.

No comments: