Aspirin and prostate health

By HSC Staff Writer • Published: December 4th, 2006
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

Many Americans participate in a regimen called daily aspirin therapy. Once a day, they take a single adult or baby aspirin to reduce the risk of heart attack or stroke or to relieve the symptoms of arthritis.

It turns out aspirin has another unexpected fringe benefit. It can lower the risk of prostate gland enlargement, which in aging men can cause symptoms such as frequent urination.

A study published in The American Journal of Epidemiology by researchers at the Mayo Clinic College of Medicine evaluated the prostate health of nearly twenty-five-hundred men over a dozen years. After taking into account differences in age and other health factors, the men who were on daily aspirin therapy for other medical reasons lowered their risk of having an enlarged prostate by forty-nine percent, and were twenty-seven percent less likely to experience moderate to severe urinary symptoms.

This fringe benefit, derived from aspirin’s anti-inflammatory properties, was also observed in men taking daily doses of other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, like ibuprofen or naproxen.

The study can’t be taken as gospel, since it was not a placebo-controlled clinical trial. Also, the researchers were less certain about what dosages produced the optimal benefits. And the regimen should only be followed under a doctor’s care, because aspirin can irritate the stomach and promote bleeding.

But as the male contingent of the Baby Boom generation continues to age, prostate gland enlargement may turn out to be yet another headache aspirin can address.