Low-Dose Aspirin May Help Ward Off This Cancer
But, finding isn't conclusive, and people shouldn't take the drug just to cut cancer risk, experts say
For the study, Risch and colleagues collected data on 362 people with pancreatic cancer and 690 who did not have the disease. Participants were recruited from 30 Connecticut hospitals between 2005 and 2009.
All of the study participants were asked when they began taking aspirin, how much and for how long. The researchers also took into account other factors, such as weight, smoking history and any history of diabetes.
A dose of 75 milligrams to 325 milligrams of aspirin per day was considered low-dose and was usually taken to prevent heart disease. The researchers considered a dose higher than that, usually taken every four to six hours, as regular-dose taken for pain.
The investigators found that the earlier someone started taking low-dose aspirin regularly, the more the risk for pancreatic cancer seemed reduced.
The reduction ranged from 48 percent among those who started three years before the study to 60 percent in those who started taking it 20 years before the study, the researchers said.
However, people who stopped taking aspirin within two years before the study saw their risk for pancreatic cancer increase threefold, compared with those who continued taking aspirin, the authors said.
Dr. Tony Philip, an oncologist at North Shore-LIJ Cancer Institute in Lake Success, N.Y., said, "Pancreatic cancer is not a common cancer, but a deadly one nonetheless."
Over the last several years, more has been learned about the role of inflammation in cancer, he said, and has been well described in colon cancer. There are also ongoing studies looking at the role of anti-inflammatory drugs in reducing recurrence of other types of tumors.
"Much more work needs to be done before we start recommending this [aspirin] to the general population. The next step, which may be harder to do, is to prove cause and effect and figure out who benefits most from this," Philip said.