FRIDAY, Aug. 6 (HealthDay News) -- Some of the most widely prescribed drugs in the United States may skew results of prostate cancer screening tests, possibly causing errors in diagnoses, a new study finds.
A prostate cancer diagnosis is typically based on an elevated PSA (prostate-specific antigen)level, but new research shows that common drugs, including cholesterol-lowering statins and certain painkillers, may lower PSA levels.
"Our study reveals that men regularly consuming NSAIDs [non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs], statins, and thiazide diuretics may have lower serum PSA levels compared to men who are not taking these medications," said Dr. Steven L. Chang, lead author of a paper published online Aug. 2 in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.
"This could be a confounder when you're trying to screen for prostate cancer," added Dr. Lionel L. Bañez, assistant professor of urologic surgery at Duke University Medical Center in Durham, N.C. "We should exercise caution in interpreting PSA results from patients who are taking any of these medications, especially those who are taking these medications for a long time."
But for now, men shouldn't worry unduly that their health is being compromised, said another expert.
"One PSA reading does not give accurate information," said Dr. Jay Brooks, chairman of hematology/oncology at Ochsner Health System in Baton Rouge, La. "You want to follow the trend over a number of years. It's time that makes a difference."
Other studies have suggested that these drugs as well as others used to treat enlarged prostate can lower PSA levels, but those studies suffered from various limitations, the authors reported.
Chang and his colleagues studied the effect of 10 common medications on PSA test readings in 1,864 men age 40 and older with no history of prostate cancer.
One year of using NSAIDs,
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