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Painkillers May Be Good for the Prostate
Date:6/20/2009

Yet medical experts stress that men shouldn't take them with just this in mind

SATURDAY, June 20 (HealthDay News) -- Taking over-the-counter painkillers such as aspirin and ibuprofen might help men avoid prostate problems.

But even so, medical experts are quick to caution men not to self-dose or to take more than the recommended amounts of these medications, because harmful side effects can result.

"Our data suggest if men are taking these [medications] for another problem, it might prevent urological problems as well," said Jennifer St. Sauver, an epidemiologist at the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota who led a study that found that men who took nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) daily had a reduction of about 50 percent in enlargement of the prostate gland. The condition, called benign prostatic hyperplasia, affects many men after age 40.

The gland, about the size of a walnut, is below the bladder and surrounds the urine-carrying canal or urethra. The gland often enlarges in older men, making urination difficult.

But men in St. Sauver's study who took painkillers daily had more than a third fewer moderate to severe urinary problems than men who did not take daily painkillers.

Lower levels of prostate specific antigen (PSA) also seem to be a benefit experienced by men who take NSAIDs regularly. PSA is a biomarker in the bloodstream that is used to assess the risk of getting prostate cancer.

Dr. Eric A. Singer, chief resident in urology at the University of Rochester Medical Center in New York, led a team of researchers who found that regular use of NSAIDs yielded PSA levels 10 percent lower than in men who didn't use them. St. Sauver's study found lower PSA levels among NSAID users in her study as well.

Men taking acetaminophen also were included in Singer's study, and they had about the same reduction in PSA levels. But, because the number of men who took acetaminophen
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