By Laura Shin
Posting in Cancer
The key to reducing cancer risk may lie in daily intake of the cheap generic drug aspirin. But a daily aspirin comes with its own negative side effects.
The finding that a cheap drug can help in the fight against cancer is also being balanced against the fact that a daily aspirin can cause gastrointestinal bleeding, hemorrhagic strokes and other negative side effects, especially in healthy patients.
One of the studies by University of Oxford researchers looked at data on tens of thousands of men and women who participated in dozens of large, long-term randomized controlled trials. After three years, the group taking a daily aspirin, cancer risk was about 25% less than in the control group not taking aspirin. After five years, the difference was a 37% reduced risk.
The second study of five large randomized controlled studies in Britain found that daily aspirin users had a 36% reduction in the risk of metastatic cancer and a 46% decreased risk of colon, lung and prostate cancer over the control group.
The studies also showed that daily aspirin lowered the risk of cancer progressing to the metastatic stage, especially for colorectal cancer patients.
Both studies, published in the medical journal The Lancet, were led by Dr. Peter M. Rothwell, a professor of clinical neurology at the University of Oxford, who told The New York Times:
“What really jumps out at you in terms of prevention is the striking 75% reduction in esophageal cancer and a 40 to 50% reduction in colorectal cancer, which is the most common cancer right now. In terms of prevention, anyone with a family history would be sensible to take aspirin."
Experts were cautious about these results because daily aspirin increases the risk of gastrointestinal bleeding and hemorrhagic strokes. However, Dr. Rothwell's studies found that bleeding in aspirin users decreased over time and that the daily aspirin group had a lower risk of death from brain bleeds than the control group.
However, more caveats focused on the fact that the clinical trials studied were not originally meant to study cancer prevention; they were intended to examine the effects of daily aspirin on heart disease.
Two major studies that looked at the usage of low-dose aspirin to prevent cancer did not find it was linked to reductions in cancer, but Dr. Rothwell's team did not include them in their analysis because they involved use of aspirin every other day, not daily.
However, other experts said that despite the limitations of the analyses, other long-term clinical trials of aspirin and cancer are not likely to be done because such studies would be expensive and aspirin is a cheap generic drug.
Dr. Andrew T. Chan, an associate professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and co-author of a comment published with the articles, said the studies, despite their limitations, “raise the level of excitement about using aspirin as a chemopreventive agent.”
“If you start to include the possibility that aspirin reduces the cancer risk beyond colon cancer, then the risk-benefit ratio shifts quite a bit, especially for those cancers where we have little to offer in the way of screening and early diagnosis,” Dr. Chan said.
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Mar 21, 2012
There are Government financed and pharmaceutical financed studies for everything. One day Tomato is great and next study Tomato kills. I'm fed up with all these studies that get no where. If you drink coffee you will live 1 million years and the next study drinking 2 cups of coffee a day will give you cancer in the brain. You want to be better informed go and read at the MIT website and the Mayo clinic website also.
Hi Bstockham, Thanks for catching that. That was a typo. I meant to type lung cancer. I've updated the post. Laura
and a 46% decreased risk of colon, lunch and prostate cancer over the control group. Could someone explain to me what "lunch cancer" is?
Kind of a useless study if they don't indicate the amount of aspiring???baby or regular? One, two, three, or more? Amount vs. weight? For what length of time? At what age? Leaves too many important questions unanswered to be a viable study.
"...other long-term clinical trials of aspirin and cancer are not likely to be done" While this is an interesting and import study, it unfortunately says even more about the corrupted nature of the professional American medical system and it's near total basis against any therapeutic that isn't a prescription drug. Ibuprofen offers similar and possibly even more therapeutic affects as an even more potent anti-inflammatory agent and you won't find anyone doing similar studies with it either. We are such sheep.
Is there any data on the age of the volunteers on the trial? Taking Aspirin for 5+ years when you're in your 50's may be a safe bet, especially if you look at the available data when those people are in their 60's. However, taking it in your early 30's for example may have longer term effects that we currently can't don't measure and that could manifest when a younger control group reaches 60 30years down the line.
Follow the links, you learn they were studying low-dose aspirin regimens - for one of the studies specifies it was up to 75 mg a day, for the other it just says low-dose. The effect was the same for all ages. These researchers weren't conducting their own trials, they were analyzing data from multiple studies that tested the effectiveness of low-dose aspirin in preventing heart attacks. To provide those details for all of those trials would make for an extremely long article.