Aspirin May Decrease Pancreatic Cancer

Monthly use of aspirin appears to lower cancer risk

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

(RxWiki News) Taking aspirin at least once a month significantly lowers the risk of developing cancer of the pancreas.

Preliminary results from a large study show the effectiveness of both full-strength and low-dose aspirin to reduce the risks of one of the deadliest forms of cancer. These benefits were not seen in non-aspirin NSAIDs (Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) or acetaminophen.

"Aspirin may lower the risk of pancreatic cancer."

Xiang-Lin Tan, Ph.D., M.D., a research fellow at Mayo Clinic, emphasized that these findings are preliminary and do not encourage widespread use of aspirin for this purpose.

“The results are not meant to suggest everyone should start taking aspirin once monthly to reduce their risk of pancreatic cancer,” said Tan. “Individuals should discuss the use of aspirin with their physicians because the drug carries some side effects.”

“This provides additional evidence that aspirin may have chemoprevention activity against pancreatic cancer,” said Dr. Tan. He added that more data needs to be gathered before a real benefit can be established.

In Depth

  • For the current study, 904 patients who had documented pancreatic cancer were compared with 1,224 healthy patients
  • All patients were at least 55 years old and reported their use of aspirin, NSAIDs and acetaminophen by questionnaire
  • The researchers did not see a benefit from non-aspirin NSAIDs or acetaminophen
  • The Mayo Clinic study found that people who took full-strength aspirin at least one day during a month had a 26 percent decreased risk of pancreatic cancer compared to those who did not take aspirin regularly
  • People taking low-dose aspirin for heart disease prevention also experienced 35 percent lower risk

Pancreatic cancer is one of the most lethal forms of the disease. According to the American Cancer Society, about 20 percent of people with pancreatic cancer live at least one year after diagnosis, while less than four percent will be alive after five years.

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Review Date: 
April 12, 2011
Last Updated:
April 13, 2011