Aspirin Dramatically Reduces Prostate Cancer Death Rate
September 30, 2012 by Robert Wascher
Filed under A Cancer Prevention Guide for the Human Race, Cancer, Cancer Prevention, Colorectal Cancer, Colorectal Cancer Risk, Prostate Cancer Risk, Radical Prostatectomy, Risk of Death, Weekly Health Update, aspirin, cancer risk, colon cancer, death, mortality, prostate cancer, radiation
A new study shows that aspirin reduces the risk of death from prostate cancer by 60 to 80%.
ASPIRIN DRAMATICALLY REDUCES PROSTATE CANCER DEATH RATE
Prostate cancer is the most common of all major cancers in men, and the second most common cause of cancer-associated death in men. Based upon data from the American Cancer Society, 242,000 men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer in the United States in 2012, and more than 28,000 American men will die of this disease this year.
As I discuss in my bestselling book, A Cancer Prevention Guide for the Human Race, there are multiple evidence-based strategies available for men to decrease their risk of developing prostate cancer. However, one area where prostate cancer prevention research in humans has been lacking is in the assessment of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory (NSAID) medications for the prevention and treatment of prostate cancer. There is abundant scientific evidence that this class of medications (which includes aspirin, ibuprofen, naproxen, and other common anti-inflammatory drugs) can significantly reduce the risk of other types of cancer, including, notably, colon and rectal cancer. Now, a new study involving nearly 6,000 men with prostate cancer indicates that the humble aspirin tablet appears to dramatically reduce the risk of cancer-associated death in men diagnosed with prostate cancer.
The prospective Cancer of the Prostate Strategic Urologic Research Endeavor (CaPSURE) Study enrolled 5,955 men with early-stage prostate cancer. All of these men underwent either surgery (prostatectomy) or radiation therapy as primary treatment for their prostate cancer. Among these nearly 6,000 patient volunteers, 2,175 were taking one or more blood thinning medications for other illnesses, including aspirin, Coumadin (warfarin), Plavix (clopidogrel), or Lovenox (enoxaprin). The outcomes of these nearly 6,000 prostate cancer patients were carefully monitored over an average follow-up period of 70 months. Importantly, throughout the course of this large prospective clinical study, patients were required to provide updated health information on a quarterly basis. Moreover, their Urologists also separately provided ongoing clinical updates on these patients. This unique study design, along with its prospective nature and its large cohort of patient volunteers, provides a very high level of clinical evidence for this study’s findings.
The results of this study were striking. While the non-aspirin blood thinners appeared to have minimal impact on the death rate due to prostate cancer, the regular use of aspirin was associated with a whopping and highly significant 57 percent reductionin the risk of death due to prostate cancer among these nearly 6,000 patient volunteers. Even more impressive was the finding that men with high-risk forms of prostate cancer were almost 5 times less likely to die of prostate cancer if they took aspirin (i.e., 4 percent risk of death versus 19 percent risk of death at 10 years, respectively), which equates to a nearly 80 percent reduction in the risk of dying from prostate cancer.
The findings of this study have significant public health implications. For men already diagnosed with prostate cancer, and especially men who have prostate cancer with high-risk features, aspirin appears to dramatically reduce the risk of cancer-associated death for a period of at least 10 years, based upon the findings of this ongoing study. Additionally, this finding that aspirin dramatically reduces the risk of cancer-associated death in men diagnosed with prostate cancer also strongly suggests that there may also be a role for aspirin as a prevention agent for prostate cancer, much as it is currently used to prevent colorectal cancer in high-risk patients. I consider the findings of this clinical study to be of very high significance, and it should, in my opinion, compel a new randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blinded prospective study to validate these extremely impressive and encouraging findings.
Although favorable data supporting aspirin as a powerful cancer prevention agent continues to accumulate, the regular use of aspirin can be associated with serious, and even life-threatening, side effects, including ulcers of the GI tract, GI tract bleeding, kidney injury, and allergic reactions, among others. Therefore, if you are thinking of adding aspirin to your list of medications, then I urge you to first discuss this with your doctor!
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Disclaimer: As always, my advice to readers is to seek the advice of your physician before making any significant changes in medications, diet, or level of physical activity
Dr. Wascher is an oncologic surgeon, professor of surgery, cancer researcher, oncology consultant, and a widely published author
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