Low-Dose Aspirin May Cut Pancreatic Cancer Risk

Pancreatic cancer risk lower among those who took low doses of aspirin on a regular basis

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD Beth Bolt, RPh

(RxWiki News) Low-dose aspirin, commonly used to prevent heart attack and stroke, may have another use: protecting against one of the deadliest cancers.

In a recent study, lengthy, daily use of low-dose aspirin lowered the risk for pancreatic cancer.

"Talk to an oncologist about ways to reduce your cancer risk."

This study was led by Samantha Streicher, a PhD student in the School of Public Health at Yale University in Boston.

The researchers used data from the Connecticut Pancreas Case Control Study. The participants were from 30 community hospitals and were interviewed in person between 2005 and 2009. There were 362 newly diagnosed pancreatic cancer patients and 690 people who did not have cancer but who were matched to the patients in terms of gender and age.

Previous research has suggested that aspirin might play a role in preventing pancreatic cancer. Pancreatic cancer is a rare cancer with a poor prognosis. Streicher and team wanted to study the issue to see what they could learn.

These researchers found that regular use of aspirin was associated with a reduced risk of pancreatic cancer. The more years a person took aspirin regularly, the lower their risk. The relationship was strongest for those taking low-dose aspirin, although all regular aspirin use was found to protect against pancreatic cancer

More pancreatic cancer was found among people who stopped taking aspirin for two years before they were interviewed.

For those with continuous, regular aspirin use, those who took aspirin daily for six years or less had a 39 percent reduced risk for pancreatic cancer compared to those who did not take aspirin regularly. Those who took daily aspirin for more than 10 years had a 60 percent lower risk of developing pancreatic cancer compared to non-daily aspirin users.

The researchers noted that it is thought that pancreatic cancer stays dormant for several years before manifesting itself, which may be why long-term use of aspirin is so important; while it may not stop the cancer from developing, it may play a role in preventing it from spreading.

Those who stopped taking aspirin within two years of the start of the study had a three-fold higher risk for pancreatic cancer compared to people who were still taking aspirin regularly at the time of their interview.

Streicher and colleagues cautioned that regular aspirin intake is associated with side effects, such as bleeding, in some people, and should be taken only under a physician’s recommendation.

However, in some people with risk factors for pancreatic cancer, this may be a therapy that should be considered, the researchers added.

This study was published June 26 in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers, and Prevention.

The research was funded by the National Cancer Institute. The authors declared no conflicts of interest.

Review Date: 
June 25, 2014
Last Updated:
June 26, 2014