Men who take aspirin regularly may have a lower risk of dying from prostate cancer, a new study suggests. “We found that regular aspirin intake after prostate cancer diagnosis decreased the risk of prostate cancer death by almost 40 percent,” said lead researcher Dr. Christopher Allard, a urologic oncology fellow at Harvard Medical School in Boston.
However, he added, “It is premature to recommend aspirin for prevention of lethal prostate cancer, but men with prostate cancer who may already benefit from aspirin’s cardiovascular effects could have one more reason to consider regular aspirin use.”
Since this was an observational study, no one can draw a direct cause-and-effect link between aspirin use and risk of prostate cancer death, said Dr. Sumanta Pal, an ASCO expert and an oncologist at City of Hope in Duarte, Calif.
Still, Allard speculated that aspirin’s ability to suppress platelets in the blood — which is why aspirin can cause bleeding as a side effect — might help explain how aspirin could prevent the lethal progression of prostate cancer. “Platelets probably shield circulating cancer cells from immune recognition,” he said. “By depleting those platelets, you’re allowing the immune system to recognize the cancer.”
Allard added that aspirin likely helps prevent the cancer from spreading to other areas of the body, such as the bone. Allard said men thinking about taking aspirin regularly for any reason should consult their doctor to discuss individual risks and benefits.