Researchers in the Netherlands found that the risk of acute urinary retention (severe difficulty urinating) was twice as high in men taking nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs as in men who were not using them. By contrast, though, researchers in America evaluating the long-term effects of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen and naproxen, on the prostate found that daily nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs use was linked to a reduced risk of developing BPH symptoms and slow urinary flow rates.
At first glance the studies seem contradictory, but a closer look suggests that nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs may be both friend and foe, depending on the stage of benign prostatic hyperplasia or BPH and the part of the urinary tract thatâ€™s vulnerable.
The American study evaluated the onset of BPH symptoms. There is emerging evidence that inflammation may play a role in development of BPH. If thatâ€™s the case, regular nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs use might delay the onset of symptoms. The Dutch study, which evaluated established cases of acute urinary retention, found that men who had recently begun taking nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs were at the highest risk. These men may already have been developing BPH for years before taking the NSAIDs. And the nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs may have caused trouble by acting on the bladder, not the prostate.
Harvard Menâ€™s Health Watch suggests that if men notice an increase in BPH symptoms while taking an NSAID, they should inform their doctors and reduce or avoid NSAIDs.