More Men May Benefit from Aspirin Therapy

Cancer effects of aspirin may mean more men can benefit from aspirin therapy

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) You may have heard about taking one baby aspirin a day to help prevent heart disease. This little, multi-purpose pill is also showing power in reducing cancer deaths.

Recent research concluded that daily aspirin use lowered a man's overall cancer mortality risks by 22 percent. 

A newly published study concluded that when this cancer effect (lowered mortality risk) is considered, the benefits of daily aspirin therapy outweigh the risks.

"Talk to your pharmacist about the benefits and risks of aspirin therapy. "

While low-dose aspirin is well-known for its heart health benefits, the medicine isn’t risk-free. It’s known to cause digestive system bleeding, and may also be linked to increased risk of strokes in some men. 

For the new study, researchers modeled the overall aspirin health benefits for men of various ages. A detailed cost analysis was also part of the study.

Based on their findings, the authors contended that the benefits of aspirin therapy outweigh its risks.

“We found that including a risk reduction for cancer deaths had a substantial impact on the overall benefits of aspirin, especially for early middle-aged men from 45 to 55 years of age," said study lead author, Michael Pignone, MD, MPH, professor of medicine and chief of the division of general internal medicine, and a member of UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center.

"Based on this effect, several million men who were not previously good candidates for aspirin prevention would now become eligible,” said Dr. Pignone.

“In conclusion, our analysis suggests that aspirin appears beneficial for a large proportion of middle-aged men at low to moderate coronary heart disease risk, and that if its effects on cancer are real, this proportion would be even larger,” the authors wrote.

“The data have become increasingly convincing that by taking a daily low-dose aspirin (i.e., 81 mg, 'baby aspirin') we can not only reduce our risks of coronary heart disease, but we can also significantly reduce the risk of developing numerous cancers (i.e., breast, colorectal, prostate, melanoma),” Brian D. Lawenda, MD, clinical director of radiation oncology at 21st Century Oncology (Las Vegas), told dailyRx News.

“As an integrative oncologist, I spend a lot of time counseling patients on numerous evidence-informed therapies and lifestyle modifications that may improve cancer and other health-related outcomes. For the vast majority of individuals, with or without a previous diagnosis of cancer, taking a daily low-dose aspirin not only saves precious health care dollars but more importantly ... can save many lives,” said Dr. Lawenda, who is the founder of

“Reports such as those from Pignone et al and others have influenced my integrative oncology recommendations, to patients with minimal risk of bleeding complications, to consider taking a daily low-dose aspirin,” Dr. Lawenda concluded.

Men and women both should thoroughly discuss the risks and benefits with their doctor before starting any aspirin therapy regimen.

Findings from this study were published in the June issue of the Journal of General Internal Medicine.

Funding for the study was provided by Partnership for Prevention, the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, and the National Cancer Institute.

Two of the authors are employees of RTI Health Solutions, a contract research company that receives funds from pharmaceutical, biotechnology, and medical device/diagnostic manufacturers to perform outcomes research for cardiovascular disease and other conditions.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
June 5, 2013
Last Updated:
August 7, 2013