Low-Dose Aspirin and Lower Risk of Some Cancers
The effect was seen most strongly with colon, gastrointestinal tumors, researchers report
By Steven Reinberg
THURSDAY, March 3, 2016 (HealthDay News) -- Taking low-dose aspirin every day may lower the overall risk of cancer by 3 percent, mostly because of larger reductions that were seen in the risk for colon and gastrointestinal tumors, researchers are reporting.
But the benefit was only seen after six years of taking aspirin almost daily, the study authors said.
"That makes sense, because cancers don't typically develop overnight. They take years to develop, so you would have to take aspirin for a long time to prevent cancer," said senior researcher Dr. Andrew Chan, from Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston.
"There is scientific evidence that aspirin has an effect on certain biological pathways that can result in cancer," he said. And it also reduces inflammation and the amount of some cancer-causing proteins.
This study shows only that taking aspirin is associated with a reduction in the risk of cancer, not that it prevents the disease, Chan said. However, other studies have come to the same conclusion, he added.
"The evidence has reached the point that it may be useful to consider using aspirin to prevent colon cancer," he said. "But we are still not at a point where the general population should take aspirin for cancer prevention."
The report was published online March 3 in the journal JAMA Oncology.
Dr. Ernest Hawk is vice president of the division of cancer prevention and population sciences at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, in Houston. He said, "This is another study suggesting reductions in gastrointestinal and colon cancers among people who take aspirin for other reasons, such as reducing the risk of heart attacks or treating arthritis and relieving pain." Hawk co-authored an editorial that accompanied the research.
For the study, Chan and colleagues looked at the link between aspirin and cancer among more than 130,000 women and men who took part in the long-term Nurses' Health Study and the Health Professionals Follow-up Study.
During more than 30 years of follow-up, there were more than 20,000 cancers among more than 88,000 women, and more than 7,500 cancers among nearly 48,000 men, the study found.