Long-Term Acetaminophen Use May Lower Prostate Cancer Risk

Long-term use of acetaminophen is associated with a decreased risk of prostate cancer (PCa), according to a study.

Previous epidemiologic studies have shown that use of aspirin and other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS), especially long-term, is associated with a modestly decreased risk of PCa, the authors noted. Acetaminophen, they added, is not traditionally considered an NSAID but it can have anti-inflammatory effects.

Eric J. Jacobs, PhD, and colleagues at the American Cancer Society in Northwest Atlanta, Ga., identified the association between acetaminophen use and PCa risk in a study of 78,485 men in the Cancer Prevention Study II Nutrition Cohort. Information on acetaminophen use was obtained from a questionnaire completed at study enrollment in 1992 and updated with follow-up questionnaires in 1997 and every two years thereafter.

During follow-up from 1992 through 2007, 8,092 PCa cases were diagnosed. Current regular use of acetaminophen (30 or more pills per month) for five or more years was associated with a 38% decreased risk of PCa overall and a 51% decreased risk of aggressive PCa, after adjusting for age, race, body mass index, diabetes, and other potential confounders. Current regular use of acetaminophen for less than five years was not associated with PCa risk.

“If the association between acetaminophen use and lower risk of prostate cancer is confirmed, it could provide clues about biological mechanisms that are important in prostate carcinogenesis,” the authors concluded.

The investigators pointed out that acetaminophen use can have adverse effects, including liver damage, but is considered relatively safe at recommended doses.

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