Acetaminophen Shown to Reduce Prostate Cancer Risk by 38%

23 May 2011

An interesting study has just been released showing a possible connection between regular use of acetaminophen (Tylenol) and a reduction in prostate cancer. The study, conducted by the American Cancer Society and published in the Cancer Epidemiology Biomarkers and Prevention journal, followed the daily medication habits of 78,485 men who were enrolled in a cancer prevention trial. These patients were followed over a course of 15 years.

Among those men who took a minimum of one acetaminophen tablet per day for five or more years, the rate of developing prostate cancer was 38% lower. In addition, the rate of aggressive prostate cancer in these men was reduced by 51%. No benefit was seen in men who took the drug less regularly or for a period of less than five years.

Often, studies such as this one are based on the patients’ subjective report rather than looking at a controlled experiment, which leads to the possibility of flawed data. That’s not to say that there isn’t truth to this claim however. It just means that more controlled experimentation should be done to confirm the results, and we should always view early research trials with a bit of caution.

That being said, NSAID-based anti-inflammatory medications have been shown in several studies to have an effect on reducing prostate cancer development. Acetaminophen, while not an NSAID, has a similar anti-inflammatory effect on the body. If you remember, last week I also posted information about a study that linked heavy coffee consumption to reduced risk of prostate cancer. That study also stated that the anti-inflammatory properties within coffee may have been the cause for the observed reduction in prostate cancer development. So there seems to be some connection between anti-inflammatory medications and prostate cancer risk, which lends additional credibility to the results of this studies.

Acetaminophen, when taken in recommended amounts, is considered to be a very safe drug. For patients who have risk factors for prostate cancer, such as a family history of the disease, this could be used in an effort to try to prevent its development. Whether you’re a patient or a physician, you can never have too much information, and we’ll keep our eyes open for more news about this drug and its beneficial effects in patients with prostate cancer risk.

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