Men with prostate cancer may benefit significantly from taking an aspirin a day, according to US-wide research for the Nashville Men’s Health Study.
The drug causes a drop in prostate-specific antigen (PSA), a blood marker used to monitor the progress of prostate cancer.
But despite this finding, doubts remain about claims that aspirin actually protects against the disease, which kills 10,000 men a year in the UK.
The possibility remains that it may just lower PSA without affecting the disease. Worse than that, it might mean that the aspirin is masking the existence of some cancers and allowing them to go undetected.
Nevertheless, Dr Jay Fowke, from Vanderbilt University in Tennessee, said: “I don’t think aspirin was changing PSA by changing the prostate volume. It was doing something different, and that suggests a beneficial effect.
“These findings could be consistent with a protective effect, because aspirin reduced PSA levels more among those men who were diagnosed with prostate cancer than among men with other prostate diseases.”
John Neate, chief executive of the Prostate Cancer Charity, said: “This raises further questions rather than giving men clear choices to take, so, as ever, there’s a great need for further research.”
Copyright Press Association 2008