Men 40 and older: The next time you reach into your medicine cabinet for pain reliever, note that ibuprofen may make it more difficult to detect prostate cancer during screenings.

Researchers from the University of Rochester Medical Center in Rochester, New York, analyzed 1,319 men 40 and older who took nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and found that the men who took NSAIDs every day had prostate specific antigen or PSA levels about 10 percent lower than men who did not take them. Both aspirin and ibuprofen decrease the levels of PSA, a protein in men’s blood that doctors use to screen for prostate cancer.  

The researchers are unclear whether the results mean the men in the study have a lower risk of developing prostate cancer or the medications may interfere with the detection of prostate tumors during a regular screening.  

This study is critical for black men because they have a 60 percent higher chance of developing prostate cancer than white men. “If you’re a guy who’s close to the upper limit of normal (in PSA levels) or would have been over the upper limit and now you’re under it because of this, that could certainly change whether or not you would be referred for a biopsy (to check for a tumor),” says Eric Singer, MD one of the researchers.

Read RH’s “Got Prostate?” to learn more.