Aspirin not ideal for prostate health
Aspirin and other similar painkillers may halve the risk of developing an enlarged prostate, US research suggests.
It should be stressed that although Minnesota's Mayo Clinic found non steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) cut men's risk, they did not recommend all men took the medication because of the potential side-effects.
An enlarged prostate, known as benign prostatic hyperplasia, can make it difficult to pee and increase the need to do so. Older men are more prone to developing the condition. It affects almost half of men in their seventies.
The study, which appeared in the American Journal of Epidemiology, found that NSAIDs prevented or delayed enlargement of the prostate.
NSAIDS have previously been linked to a reduced risk of prostate cancer and some people also take them to prevent heart disease or reduce arthritis symptoms. However, there are major risks associated with regular use of NSAIDs including an increased risk of stomach ulcers, disruption of the blood clotting system and asthma attacks in susceptible people.
Lead researcher Dr Jenny St Sauver told the BBC: 'We would not recommend that every man go out and take aspirin, but if they are already taking it regularly for other reasons, our findings suggest another benefit as well.'
The reason why NSAIDs help the prostate is unclear. The researchers said more work was needed to confirm their findings, and then to examine the optimum dose to cut risk.
Dr Chris Hiley, of the Prostate Cancer Charity, said aspirin had been consistently linked to a variety of positive health effects - but stressed the potential side-effects. 'We advise men keen to reduce their risk of prostate disease who feel they may benefit from taking regular aspirin, to discuss it with their doctors, and not to dose themselves without medical supervision.
'The researchers themselves admit they are not in a position to recommend the lowest dose they know would work so there is still uncertainty on the best course of action.'
Page created on December 11th, 2006
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