Does Low-Dose Aspirin Use Improve Prostate Cancer Survival?

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Low-dose aspirin may modestly reduce the risk of death from prostate cancer, though only if taken for an extended period, a 2019 study in the Annals of Internal Medicine suggests. Some, though not all, studies have offered clues that regular aspirin use improves survival in men with prostate cancer. Lab studies suggest that aspirin may fight prostate cancer in several ways, notably by blocking enzymes that appear to play some role in more aggressive forms of the disease.

To study this link more closely, Danish researchers examined a nationwide registry that included data on aspirin use among more than 29,000 men with prostate cancer. (Aspirin is primarily sold only by prescription in Denmark.) In the year following their prostate cancer diagnosis, 25 percent of the men used aspirin and 75 percent did not. During an average follow up of nearly five years, 7,633 men died from prostate cancer and 5,575 died from other causes. Overall, there was no association between taking low-dose aspirin (75 to 150 milligrams) and survival in prostate cancer patients. A reduced risk of dying from prostate cancer was observed among long-term, low-dose aspirin users; by 9 percent after five years and 16 percent after 7.5 years.

Because this was an observational study, the results only show a correlation between low-dose aspirin use and prostate cancer survival, not causation. Additional research is needed to determine the value of long-term aspirin use and whether any potential benefits outweigh the risks.