Small Dose of Aspirin could Lower the Chances of some Cancers

Kathleen Blanchard's picture
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A small dose of daily aspirin has been found to reduce the chances of several types of cancer. Researchers found a lower risk of esophageal, pancreatic, brain and lung cancer after five years of taking low dose aspirin, in eight different trials.

After 20 years, aspirin lowered cancer risk 20 percent

The findings, published in the Lancet also found aspirin might have benefits for reducing the chances of stomach, colorectal, and prostate cancer, but the effect was more delayed.

After twenty years, researchers found the risk of dying from the various cancers was 20 percent for men given aspirin in trials that had ended twenty years earlier. There was also a 35 percent reduced risk of gastrointestinal cancer found from the data.

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The studies were focused on comparing men taking aspirin for heart problems to those given placebo. The scientists from University of Oxford extracted information from cancer registries after the studies ended.

Dr. Peter M. Rothwell, professor of neurology at the University of Oxford says, "There’s been a lot of work over the years showing that certain compounds can increase the risk of cancer, but it’s not been shown before that we can reduce the risk with something as simple as aspirin."

The reason aspirin cuts cancer risk isn’t entirely clear, but it may be the anti-inflammatory effect of aspirin that stops tumors from growing. The dose of aspirin associated with lower cancer risk was 75 mg. A baby aspirin contains 81 mg of aspirin.

The findings could have clinical applications for patients at high risk for cancer that should be discussed to weigh the risks and benefits. Aspirin can cause gastrointestinal bleeding. The study is observational and may merit more investigation.

Lancet: doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(10)62110-1

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