Should you take aspirin if you have prostate cancer?
You no doubt pop an aspirin now and then to soothe a headache. Nothing wrong with that, but what happens if you take too much aspirin, especially every day? And perhaps more important, how does this affect prostate cancer?
First off, using aspirin as regular medicine has been around for some time. Physician’s often prescribe aspirin therapy to help prevent heart attacks and stroke in people diagnosed with cardiovascular disease as well as reduce the risk of a second heart attack. Aspirin therapy also can reduce blood clotting from surgery.
The problem is that many healthy people take aspirin on their own without any medical supervision.
An analysis published July 22 in the Annals of Internal Medicine found that almost one-quarter of adults age 40 and older without cardiovascular disease take daily aspirin. And among this group, 22 percent take it without a doctor’s recommendation.
So what, you may ask? After all, we’ve been taking aspirin since we were kids. What is the harm from taking a daily aspirin or two?
Plenty, if you don’t have any diagnosed heart health issues.
New guidelines from the American Heart Association and the American College of Cardiology say that people without cardiovascular disease should not take aspirin as preventative medicine against a heart attack and stroke, and especially those age 70 and older and people at risk for bleeding due to a peptic ulcer. The reason? The benefits do not outweigh the potential harms and side effects.
But what about aspirin therapy and prostate cancer? Is there any reward if it’s taken with a doctor’s okay?
Another recent study in the Annals of Internal Medicine explored this question and looked at almost 30,000 men, average age 70, who were recently diagnosed with prostate cancer. One-quarter used daily low-dose aspirin therapy, which was defined as two or more annual prescriptions filled within a year of their diagnosis with daily doses of 75 to 150 milligrams.
At the five-year follow-up, the researchers found that daily aspirin did not reduce the risk of death from prostate cancer.
But there was some good news.
When the follow up was extended from five to more than seven years, mortality dropped by 18 percent, and the benefit was greatest among those who followed low-dose aspirin therapy for more than three years.
What’s the takeaway?
Aspirin may slow prostate cancer by changing the action of cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2), an enzyme that contributes to inflammation and can drive tumor growth. Remember, one of the key goals to stay cancer-free and promote longevity is to keep chronic inflammation low.
But it’s all about risk versus reward.
If you have a history of acid reflux, stomach ulcers, or gastrointestinal (GI) problems, aspirin even in low doses can make matters worse. Make sure your physician knows about any of these problems.
However, there are other natural COX-2 inhibitors available. For example, curcuminoids (found in curcumin from the turmeric spice), green tea extract, and the herbal extract Boswellia. This is why I often recommend these ingredients in supplement form.
Also, to date, I have not experienced or read any scientific literature about excessive bleeding or hemorrhaging from taking these natural substances. GI problems, mainly some acid reflux can sometimes occur from taking a natural COX inhibitor, especially curcumin, but it often goes away with time.
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