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Painkillers Interfere With Prostate Cancer Screening

Armen Hareyan's picture
Painkillers and prostate cancer risk

Regular intake for general painkillers is found to lower the levels of a certain protein signaling prostate cancer risk. This means that men taking the drugs may receive wrong results after they get screened for the cancer.

A team of researchers from University of Rochester Medical Center in Rochester, New York examined 1319 men aged over 40 who are taking nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) regularly. These drugs are mainly used for headaches, minor pain, arthritis, fever and swelling.

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Researchers looked at aspirin, ibuprofen, naproxen, acetaminophen and found that all these drugs interfere with prostate cancer screening process and may give fake results. However, the link was not clear for acetaminophen, because the number of men taking the drug was not statistically significant.

Prostate specific antigen (PSA) is a protein produced by prostate gland. High levels of PSA are easy to detect and urge the presence of prostate complications. Men with high levels of PSA in blood are urged to undergo further screenings, such as biopsy to identify tumors. Men older than 40 are recommended to undergo prostate cancer screenings once a year, to identify the disease as early as possible. Taking into account this research, those screenings are now questioned because artificially lowered PSA levels may have left behind those at risk of prostate cancer.

Researchers concluded that PSA levels were 10% lower among those taking painkillers. It is not yet known whether the drugs lower prostate cancer risk, or they just lower PSA levels, making PSA screen inaccurate.