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Heart beat: Statins, aspirin affect prostate cancer test

February 01, 2009

Heart beat

Statins, aspirin affect prostate cancer test

Each year, close to 200,000 American men learn they have prostate cancer. Most find out because of the results of a blood test used to check for hidden cancer. This controversial test measures the amount of prostate-specific antigen (PSA), a substance made by prostate cells, in the blood. A high or rising PSA can signal the presence of prostate cancer or that cancer has returned after surgery or radiation therapy. Drugs that artificially lower PSA levels could, at least in theory, obscure the elevations that offer early warnings.

Two studies have linked the use of aspirin or a cholesterol-lowering statin to reduced PSA levels. In a study presented at the Frontiers in Cancer Prevention Research conference, Vanderbilt University researchers analyzed PSA levels in 1,277 men participating in the Nashville Men's Health Study. Among those taking aspirin, the average PSA was nearly 9% lower than among those not taking aspirin. In the second study, researchers looked at PSA levels among 1,214 military veterans before and after they started a statin. On average, PSA levels fell about 4% with statin use (Journal of the National Cancer Institute, Nov. 5, 2008).

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