Originally published 1/28/2016
It’s always good to examine at least two sides of an issue or topic. More than 4 years since we posted the blog below, two reviews of published literature came out, one affirming evidence that aspirin can reduce the risk of prostate cancer (PCa), the other claiming that the evidence is not strong enough to support such a conclusion. Here are summaries:
- A British team explores the potential biochemical mechanisms by which aspirin modifies PCa risk. They suggest it inhibits expression of a particular enzyme utilized by PCa cells for their advancement, affording both direct and indirect anti-cancer effects. They note that PCa population studies link aspirin use with reduced PCa development and progression, lower recurrence rates, and lower mortality rates. They also suggest that when used in conjunction with prostatectomy or radiation, aspiring may boost treatment effectiveness.[i]
- A Chinese team offers a counterpoint to the above literature review. Out of 27 published reviews that correlate aspirin use with various cancers, they found only a few containing “highly suggestive” evidence supporting a link between aspiring and PCa risk, with 22 other associations supported by “weak or not suggestive” evidence.[ii]
Perhaps the best thing we can point to is aspirin’s well-accepted cardiological benefits, and certainly its action in relieving and inflammation. That said, since a state of chronic inflammation is positively linked with the onset of cancer, including prostate cancer, that’s no excuse for daily aspirin use. Rather, a lifestyle that incorporates a noninflammatory diet, regular vigorous aerobic exercise, and stress management is an intervention that everyone can embrace. Finally, always consult with your own physician in matters of both prevention and disease intervention.
As the saying goes, an apple a day keeps the doctor away. However, a common over-the-counter product, the humble aspirin, may help keep the urologist away by helping prevent prostate cancer (PCa). A presentation at the January, 2016 Genitourinary Cancers Symposium (GuCS) in San Francisco reveals some good news, but with a few cautions.
Data from a large cohort study (22,071 men) shows that PCa patients who were also taking aspirin at least four times per week for cardiovascular protection had a 40% reduced risk of dying from their cancer. They also had a 24% reduced risk of metastatic (remote spread to other organs) than their counterparts who used aspirin less than four times per week.
On the other hand, according to the study, aspirin use did not reduce the chance of developing PCa in the first place. It also had no bearing on the possibility of high-grade disease, or local spread to the prostate bed or nearby lymph nodes.
The researchers issued a caution that much more research needs to be conducted. For one thing, the data they collected was from observational studies, including patient self-report or clinical records, rather than a randomized, controlled double-blind study in which the performance of aspirin is compared with a placebo. For another, they are not encouraging men to start taking aspirin if they are not already doing so. Regular aspirin use without a doctor’s supervision can lead to complications such as bleeding, since aspirin acts as a blood thinner. Prostate cancer patients should discuss the merits of aspirin use, and the dosage, rather than taking it upon themselves to add aspirin.
I have previously written two articles on the subject:
- The first article, “Aspirin May Prevent Prostate Cancer Recurrence After Treatment,” explains two studies of PCa patients who were taking aspirin after being treated for PCa. Both studies showed a reduction in the risk of recurrence. You can find that article at https://sperlingprostatecenter.com/aspirin-may-prevent-prostate-cancer-recurrence-treatment/
- The second, “More Evidence Shows Aspirin Beneficial Against Prostate Cancer,” regarding a possible connection between aspirin and a lower chance of aggressive disease, is posted at https://sperlingprostatecenter.com/evidence-shows-aspirin-beneficial-prostate-cancer/
At our Center, we strongly encourage our prostate cancer patients to be health-conscious in all areas including diet, exercise, stress management, supplements, etc. I have written elsewhere on the evidence that a lifestyle that supports heart health also supports prostate health. As the GuCS presentation suggests, aspirin use for heart and circulation health (a doctor’s supervision, of course) may offer PCa patients an added measure of protection.
NOTE: This content is solely for purposes of information and does not substitute for diagnostic or medical advice. Talk to your doctor if you are experiencing pelvic pain, or have any other health concerns or questions of a personal medical nature.
[i] Joshi SN, Murphy EA, Olaniyi P, Bryant RJ. The multiple effects of aspirin in prostate cancer patients. Cancer Treat Res Commun. 2021;26:100267.
[ii] Song Y, Zhong X, Gao P, Zhou C et al. Aspirin and Its Potential Preventive Role in Cancer: An Umbrella Review. Front Endocrinol (Lausanne). 2020 Jan 23;11:3.