By taking just one acetaminophen tablet a day for a minimum of five years, men can reduce their chances for developing prostate cancer by 38 percent. Researchers from the American Cancer Society found that long-term use of acetaminophen on a regular basis provides a significant level of protection from prostate cancer among men. The details of the study were recently published in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers and Prevention.
In their report, the researchers noted that the long-term use of NSAIDS (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs), such as aspirin, ibuprofen, and naproxin over has been associated with a slight reduction in the risk for prostate cancer. Acetaminophen, although not customarily considered an NSAID, the drug it is an anti-inflammatory as well as a painkiller (analgesic). Based on this background information, the research team, led by Eric Jacobs, Ph.D., conducted their study to determine whether or not the use of acetaminophen had any effect on prostate cancer risks.
The study involved data on 78,485 adult males who took part in the Cancer Prevention Study II Cohort beginning in 1992. At the start of the study, each participant was asked to complete a questionnaire regarding their use of acetaminophen. This data was updated in 1997, and again every two years through 2007.
During the the decade and a half of follow-up, a total of 8,092 of the men developed prostate cancer. Among those who took a minimum of 30 acetaminophen tablets per month over a five-year period or longer, findings incidated that there was not only a decreased risk of developing prostate cancer, but also a lower chance for developing an aggressive form of the disease. The study revealed no benefits among those who took acetaminophen for less than five years.
According to Jacobs, “While the results of this observational study suggest that long-term regular acetaminophen use may be associated with lower prostate cancer risk, our findings require replication by other studies, and do not justify use of acetaminophen to prevent prostate cancer. Acetaminophen is considered relatively safe when used at recommended doses but unintentional acetaminophen overdose is an important cause of acute liver failure. Still, results of this study could lead to further research on acetaminophen that might provide biological insights about the process of prostate cancer development and how this process could be slowed.”
Impeding the Progression of Prostate Cancer
The findings of another recent study published in the journal Cancer Research, showed that men who walked briskly significantly lowered their risk of prostate cancer progression. When compared to those who walked at a more leisurely pace, those who walked briskly for three or more hours a week, were found to have a 57 percent lower risk of prostate cancer progression.
Scientists from the University of California and the Harvard School of Public Health, led by Erin Richman, MS, of the University of California San Francisco, conducted the study, which was based on a survey involving 1,455 American men who had been previously diagnosed with prostate cancer.
According to Richman, “The important point was the intensity of the activity—the walking had to be brisk for men to experience a benefit.” The study complements an earlier Harvard finding that suggested physical activity could decrease disease-related mortality among men with prostate cancer.
Second only to skin cancer, prostate cancer is the most common type of cancer diagnosed among American men. According to the National Cancer Institute, 217,000 U.S. men are diagnosed with the disease each year.