Acetaminophen (Tylenol) May Prevent Prostate Cancer

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“A critical weekly review of important new research findings for health-conscious readers”


As I note in my recent book, A Cancer Prevention Guide for the Human Race, chronic inflammation is thought to play an important role in the development of many types of cancer. For this reason, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), including aspirin, ibuprofen, naproxen, and celecoxib, have been intensively studied as potential cancer prevention medications. Unfortunately, the enthusiasm for these medications, at least when it comes to prescribing them for patients who are at only average risk of developing cancer, has cooled considerably, as multiple research studies have linked the chronic use of most NSAIDs (other than aspirin) with an unacceptably high risk of cardiovascular disease.

Acetaminophen, which includes Tylenol, has been used for decades to treat both pain and fever. While we still don’t understand exactly how acetaminophen relieves pain or fever, it appears that mechanisms other than direct anti-inflammatory activity are involved (unlike the pure anti-inflammatory actions of NSAIDs). However, acetaminophen is still thought to possess at least mild anti-inflammatory activity, and so some researchers have recommended that this very commonly used over-the-counter medication be studied as a possible cancer prevention drug.

Now, a newly published prospective clinical research study, from the American Cancer Society, suggests that acetaminophen may indeed be able to reduce the risk of cancer, and prostate cancer in particular. In this huge study (the Cancer Prevention Study II Nutrition Cohort Study), which appears in the current issue of the journal Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention, 78,485 men were followed for an average of 15 years. Throughout this prospective public health study, this enormous group of male volunteers completed detailed questionnaires regarding their dietary and medication habits. The resulting data that was collected was then analyzed, taking into account other potentially “confounding” prostate cancer risk factors such as age, race, weight, the presence or absence of diabetes, history of NSAID use, and history of prostate-specific antigen (PSA) testing.

The findings of this study were quite dramatic. Among the men who regularly took 30 or more acetaminophen pills per month, for 5 or more years, the incidence of prostate cancer was decreased by 38 percent when compared with the men who regularly took acetaminophen for less than 5 years during the course of this clinical research study. Moreover, the incidence of aggressive forms of prostate cancer was reduced by a whopping 51 percent among the men who regularly took acetaminophen for at least 5 years!

The findings of this very large public health study are extremely intriguing, although they will have to be validated by a prospective, randomized, placebo-controlled clinical research trial before acetaminophen can be formally recommended as a cancer prevention medication. (I should also point out that the excessive use of acetaminophen can be associated with significant side effects, including severe and permanent liver damage.) Should these findings be validated in the future, then acetaminophen could become a powerful addition to a cancer prevention lifestyle.

For a comprehensive guide to living an evidence-based cancer prevention lifestyle, order your copy of my new book, A Cancer Prevention Guide for the Human Race.  For the price of a cheeseburger, fries, and a shake, you can purchase this landmark new book, in both paperback and e-book formats, and begin living an evidence-based cancer prevention lifestyle today!

For a groundbreaking overview of cancer risks, and evidence-based strategies to reduce your risk of developing cancer, order your copy of my new book, A Cancer Prevention Guide for the Human Race,” from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Books-A-Million,Vroman’s Bookstore, and other fine bookstores!

On Thanksgiving Day, 2010, A Cancer Prevention Guide for the Human Race was ranked #6 among all cancer-related books on the “Top 100 Bestseller’s List” for Kindle e-books! On Christmas Day, 2010, A Cancer Prevention Guide for the Human Race was the #1 book on the Amazon.comTop 100 New Book Releases in Cancer” list!

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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I and the staff of Weekly Health Update would again like to take this opportunity to thank the more than 100,000 health-conscious people, from around the world, who visit this premier global health information website every month. (More than 1.2 million health-conscious people visited Weekly Health Update in 2010!) As always, we enjoy receiving your stimulating feedback and questions, and I will continue to try and personally answer as many of your inquiries as I possibly can.

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