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Aspirin Cuts Death Rate From Several Common Cancers

Low Doses of Aspirin Reduce Death Rates From a Range of Cancers, New Research Shows
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Should Middle-Aged People Take Aspirin?

Previous research has linked aspirin with reductions in heart attacks and strokes, but doctors have been wary when recommending whether people should take daily doses of aspirin because of the risk of gastric bleeding. Rothwell says, "The size of the effect on cancer I think is such that it does more or less drown out those sorts of risks."

However, he says the authors of the study do not make recommendations on taking aspirin based on this study.

Peter Elwood, MD, DSc, FRCP, an expert on aspirin from Cardiff University who was not involved in the study, says that doctors are often reluctant to recommend aspirin because “the risk of causing a bleed by what the doctor prescribes is going to be uppermost in a doctor's mind.” A patient might interpret the risk differently, he says.

Rothwell and his colleagues say that more research is required, in particular for the effect on breast cancer and other cancers affecting women as well as the effect on patients beyond the 20-year period. The results of further trials are expected to be published in 2011.

‘Promising Results’

Ed Yong, head of health information and evidence at Cancer Research UK, says in an emailed statement: “These promising results build on a large body of evidence suggesting that aspirin could reduce the risk of developing or dying from many different types of cancer. While earlier studies suggested that you only get benefits from taking high doses of aspirin, this new study tells us that even small doses reduce the risk of dying from cancer provided it is taken for at least five years.

“In addition to the effect on cancer death, aspirin can affect our health in other ways, such as reducing the risk of stroke but increasing the chances of bleeding from the gut. We await trials results expected next year to learn more about these different effects.

“We encourage anyone interested in taking aspirin on a regular basis to talk to their [doctor] first.”

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