A new study reports that taking certain painkillers can lower the levels of prostate specific antigen (PSA), which can cause problems with the PSA screening tests used for prostate cancer detection.
In this study of more than 1000 men who took nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs called (NSAIDs), levels of PSA were about 10% lower than for men who didn’t take these over-the-counter painkillers.
NSAIDs include aspirin, ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin), Naproxen (Aleve) and many others.
This was also seen to some degree for acetaminophen (Tylenol), which is not an NSAID but is not as much of a concern. (acetaminophen is in another class of drugs called analgesics (pain relievers) and antipyretics (pain reducers).
It is not known whether this has anything to do with preventing prostate cancer but might be important to note that it can affect your PSA test. Your PSA reading may actually be higher if you are not using painkillers but it doesn’t mean that it has any protective effect.
You may want to let your doctor know if you are taking any over-the-counter painkillers whether it is Tylenol or the NSAIDs. It also leads one to believe what else might affect your PSA level. Does this mean that PSA tests are not reliable? That it may be solely dependent on what you are taking in the way of medications, medicines or drugs? Or anything else that you’re ingesting.
Over recent months it seems that the PSA test has become more and unreliable. Yet many men worry themselves to death if they have a high PSA reading and certainly it can be an indication that something is amiss or that even prostate cancer is present. So it cannot be ignored.
Medications used to treat an enlarged prostate have also been known to affect PSA levels.
If you get your PSA test from your regular doctor he will know what medications he is prescribing for you and but he will not know what you are taking that is over the counter. So you may want to let your doctor know or discuss this study.
There may be new trials to explore why the PSA levels are lower and their relationship to prostate cancer. But for now that is not going to happen. It could take many years and many men to do it. So it is not something that’s going to happen anytime soon.
So as it stands now aspirin or NSAIDs as or Tylenol should not be taken to prevent prostate cancer. They may actually be masking prostate cancer symptoms which would not be good. So that is something to think about also.
If you are scheduled for a PSA screening test make sure to ask your doctor if you should avoid taking any of your medications, over-the-counter painkillers or prescription painkillers or any other medications anytime before the test. That’s one good way to help get a better reading, that is, IF we can rely on the PSA test to help diagnose prostate cancer.