Aspirin May Decrease Cancer Risk

Digestive cancers and associated risk of death cut down by daily dose of aspirin in new study

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Dominique Brooks, M.D Beth Bolt, RPh

(RxWiki News) Aspirin is one of the cheapest and most common medicines available. Regular use of aspirin has been linked to lower risk of heart problems, but it may also help prevent other serious conditions.

A new study from the United Kingdom found that daily, long-term aspirin use reduced cases of digestive cancers like those of the esophagus, stomach and bowels.

In addition to reducing cases of those cancers, researchers also found a lower risk of death from the cancers.

"Learn the potential benefits and harms of taking aspirin."

The study was written by Jack Cuzick, MA, of the Centre for Cancer Prevention at Queen Mary University of London’s Wolfson Institute of Preventive Medicine in the UK, and colleagues.

The researchers conducted an analysis using previously published studies and papers to analyze the effect of taking aspirin every day on diagnosis of and death from digestive cancers of the bowels, stomach and esophagus.

Dr. Cuzick and team found that taking aspirin every day for 10 years cut bowel cancer cases by 35 percent and associated deaths by 40 percent. For esophagus and stomach cancers, the researchers found that aspirin use cut cases by 30 percent and deaths by between 50 and 35 percent.

In terms of dosage, the study authors found that the benefit came from a daily dose of 75 to 100 milligrams taken for at least five years in people between 50 and 65 years old.

In the first three years of aspirin use, the researchers found no benefit.

The study authors also found that long-term aspirin use could increase the risk of internal stomach bleeding. For 60-year-old study participants on a 10-year aspirin routine, the bleeding risk increased from a 2.2 to 3.6 percent risk.

“It has long been known that aspirin — one of the cheapest and most common drugs on the market — can protect against certain types of cancer,” Dr. Cuzick said in a press release.

He said the stomach bleeding and other side effects were serious, but, “taking aspirin daily looks to be the most important thing we can do to reduce cancer after stopping smoking and reducing obesity. The benefits of aspirin use would be most visible in the reduction in deaths due to cancer.”

The study was published online Aug. 5 in the peer-reviewed journal Annals of Oncology.

The International Society of Cancer Prevention, Cancer Research UK, British Heart Foundation and the American Cancer Society provided funding. Several study co-authors disclosed paid work with and stock ownership in private medical companies.

Review Date: 
August 5, 2014
Last Updated:
August 6, 2014