Which is Better? – An Apple or Aspirin for Prostate Cancer

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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:

  1. 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 here.
  2. 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 here.

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.

Copyright by Dan Sperling, MD. Reprint permission courtesy of Sperling Prostate Center (New York, Florida), the leading U.S. center for multiparametric detection, diagnosis and image-guided focal treatment of prostate cancer.

Read more in our Prostate Cancer Health Center.