A recent review of several studies confirms that taking a small daily dose of aspirin significantly reduces the risk of developing – or dying from several kinds of cancer.(1)
Several clinical studies have suggested that aspirin can reduce the risk of colon, and other cancer’s of the gastrointestinal tract. (2,3,4) In order to study this further, researchers analyzed all the available evidence from studies and clinical trials evaluating taking aspirin daily for 10 years and confirmed that daily aspirin could reduce bowel cancer cases by around 35 percent and deaths from the disease by 40 percent. These results were published in the Annals of Oncology journal.(1)
Aspirin, originally developed by the German drug maker Bayer, is a cheap, over-the-counter drug generally used to combat pain or reduce fever. The drug when taking in smaller doses of 75-100 milligrams per day reduces the risk of clots forming in blood vessels and can therefore protect against heart attacks and strokes, so it is often prescribed for people who already suffer with heart disease and have already had one or several attacks.
The authors found that in addition to reducing the risk of developing colon cancer, the risk of esophageal and stomach cancer were cut by 30 percent and deaths from these cancers reduced by 35 to 50 percent.
The authors of the current study observed that if everyone between 50 and 65 years of age started taking aspirin daily for at least 10 years, there would be a 9 percent reduction in the number of cancers, strokes and heart attacks overall in men, and around 7 percent in women.
There are however some serious side effects of aspirin including a risk of bleeding in the stomach. Among 60-year-olds who take daily aspirin for 10 years, the risk of digestive tract bleeding increases from 2.2 percent to 3.6 percent, and this could be life-threatening in a small proportion of people. The risk of bleeding has prevented some doctors from advising patients to take aspirin as regularly as every day. This risk of bleeding is well known and should not be ignored especially in individuals at high risk. In this era of wellness however where many individuals look to alternative medicines, nutritional supplements and foods rich in anti-oxidants, and other nutrients to reduce their caner risk an aspirin a day may be the simplest and most cost effective way to reduce the risk of gastrointestinal cancers.
1. Cuzick J, Thorat MA, Bosetti C. et al. Estimates of benefits and harms of prophylactic use of aspirin in the general population. Annals of Oncology. 10,2014 doi:10.1093/annonc/md
2. Burn J, Bishop T, Mecklin JP, et al. Effect of aspirin or resistant starch on colorectal neoplasia in the lynch syndrome. New England Journal of Medicine. 2008; 359: 2567-2578.
3. Burn J, Gerdes A-M, Macrae F et al. Long-term effect of aspirin on cancer risk in carriers of hereditary colorectal cancer: an analysis from the CAPP2 randomised controlled trial. Lancet. Early online publication October 28, 2011.
4. Tan X-L, Reid Lombardo KM, Bamlet WR, Robinson DP, Anderson K, Petersen GM. Aspirin, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), acetaminophen and risk of pancreatic cancer. Presented at the 102nd Annual Meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR), April 2-6, 2011, Orlando, FL. Abstract 1902.
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