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31 August 2006
Aspirin Appears To Be An Effective Treatment For Enlarged Prostate
by George Atkinson

Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as aspirin and ibuprofen may prevent, or at least delay, benign prostatic hyperplasia, otherwise known as an enlarged prostate. An enlarged prostate can cause problems in men as they age, such as frequent urination, trouble starting urination, awakening frequently at night to urinate, weak urine stream and an urgent need to urinate.

The research findings, appearing in the American Journal of Epidemiology, strongly suggest that men's urinary health may be improved by taking NSAIDs, according to Mayo Clinic researcher Michael Lieber. Specifically, Lieber found the risk of developing an enlarged prostate was 50 percent lower in NSAID users compared to non-users; and the risk of developing moderate to severe urinary symptoms was 35 percent lower.

An enlarged prostate affects 25 percent of men between the ages of 40 and 50; and around 50 percent of men over 70. "The typical scenario with benign prostatic hyperplasia is that men start getting up three to five times a night to urinate, and their wives ultimately force them to go see a urologist," explained Dr. Lieber. "Men also might come in if they have problems with daytime urinary frequency. All this adversely affects men's quality of life."

Interestingly, dosage levels did not seem to affect the reduction of urinary symptoms. Only a small number of men in the study took low-dose aspirin, but even those seemed to be at a decreased risk of urinary symptoms. The type of painkiller also seemed inconsequential to the result. The majority of men were taking aspirin, but those taking ibuprofen also experienced a reduction in urinary symptoms. The researchers aren't sure where the effect comes from, but speculate that the NSAIDs reduce prostate growth, increase cell death in the prostate or reduce inflammation in the genitourinary tract.

"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," said co-researcher Jenny St. Sauver.

Based on material from the Mayo Clinic

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