Washington D.C: People who take aspirin regularly have a significantly lower risk of cancer, according to a team of researchers.
An analysis of data from two major, long-term epidemiologic studies finds that the regular use of aspirin significantly reduces the overall risk of cancer, a reduction that primarily reflects a lower risk of colorectal cancer and other tumors of the gastrointestinal tract. The findings suggest that the use of aspirin may complement, but not replace, the preventive benefits of colonoscopy and other methods of cancer screening.
Senior and corresponding author Andrew Chan said that they now can recommend that many individuals consider taking aspirin to reduce their risk of colorectal cancer, particularly those with other reasons for regular use, such as heart disease prevention, but they are not at a point where they can make a general recommendation for overall cancer prevention.
Chan added that the findings imply that aspirin use would be expected to prevent a significant number of colorectal cancers above and beyond those that would be prevented by screening and may have even greater benefit in settings in which the resources to devote to cancer screening are lacking.
The research team analyzed 32 years worth of data from almost 136,000 participants in the Nurses’ Health Study and the Health Professionals Follow-up Study. They found that participants who reported regular aspirin use, defined as taking either a standard or a low-dose aspirin tablet at least twice a week, had a 3 percent absolute lower risk of any type of cancer than did those not reporting regular aspirin use.
Regular aspirin use reduced the risk of colorectal cancer by 19 percent and the risk of any gastrointestinal cancer by 15 percent. No reduction was seen in the risk of breast, prostate or lung cancer.
The study is published online first in JAMA Oncology.