Health & Wellness Blog


Aspirin Linked to Reduced Risk of Cancer

Two new British studies suggest that taking an aspirin daily may lower patients' risk of getting certain types of cancer by up to 37 percent. Doctors are cautiously optimistic about these studies because aspirin's side effects may include gastrointestinal bleeding. More studies are needed to confirm results; however, it seems that aspirin may stop cancer from spreading to other organs or from developing in the first place.

Recent Studies on Aspirin

One study, conducted at the University of Oxford, looked at the cancer rates in both men and women who took an aspirin once a day for three years. This study found that after three years, patients who took a daily dose of aspirin were far less likely have cancer than people in a control group who did not take aspirin. After five years, the group that took aspirin's cancer risk was lower by 37 percent. could taking aspirin reduce the risks of cancer?

The other study, which analyzed the results of several British cancer studies, found that people who take aspirin once a day have a lower risk of metastatic cancer--25 percent--as well as a lower risk of colon cancer. In addition, patients who had esophagus or colorectal cancers had less risk of the cancer spreading to other organs in their body if they took aspirin. The study excluded the results of two other studies that showed that taking aspirin had no significant benefit for cancer patients; however, the excluded studies looked at the effects of taking aspirin several times a week instead of the effects of taking aspirin on a daily basis.

Tradeoffs in Taking Aspirin

The results of the current studies are significant because esophagus and colon cancers are among the most serious types of cancer and are often fatal. If aspirin can stop these cancers, as well as other types of cancer, from spreading to other organs, cancer patients will be less likely to become weak and die from their disease.

Cancer is one of the most common serious illnesses U.S. patients face, and cancer of the colon or of the prostate are especially common in men over the age of 50. About 30,000 people a year die from each of these cancers, and about 40,000 women a year die from breast cancer. For this reason, many people are excited about the possibility of preventing cancer or stopping its spread by taking an aspirin every day. However, doctors are not sure yet whether it is healthy for people to take aspirin every day. Long-term aspirin use has been linked to gastrointestinal bleeding; in addition, aspirin use may increase the patient's risk of having a stroke.

For this reason, most doctors don't recommend that healthy people take aspirin daily. In the past, cardiologists have recommended that people only take aspirin to prevent heart disease if their personal risk of disease outweighs the potential negative side effects of the aspirin. Similarly, most doctors are suggesting that only people who currently suffer from cancer or are highly likely to get cancer should take aspirin to try to prevent it. People who are healthy and have low risk of cancer may risk their health more by taking the drug, so doctors currently don't recommend that they do so.


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