New research suggests that a daily low-dose of aspirin can significantly reduce the risk of cancer both occurring and spreading.
Many people already take a low daily dose of aspirin to reduce their risk of heart attack or stroke. According to three new studies, led by Dr Peter Rothwell from Oxford University and published in leading medical journals the Lancet and Lancet Oncology, taking a daily low dose of aspirin may reduce the risk of cancer occurring, and may prevent the spread of it.
In one study, using data from 51 previous trials, the researchers found that people who took aspirin daily had a 15 percent reduced risk of dying from cancer, and the reduced risk shifted to an astounding 37 percent for those who took aspirin daily for 5 years or more. People were also around 25 percent less likely to get cancer if they took aspirin for 3 years or more.
A second study looked at whether aspirin was helping to stop to the spread of cancer in the body. Looking at 5 previous trials, researchers found that thre was a 36 percent reduced risk of the cancer spreading for people taking aspirin daily. It was also found that there was a 46 percent reduced risk for prostate, colon and lung cancers, and an 18 percent reduced risk for kidney and bladder cancers.
Additionally, the third study also looked at the impact of aspirin on the spread of cancer. The researchers looked at case studies, rather than randomized clinical trials. They found about a 38 percent lower risk of developing colon cancer, and it was a similar story for esophageal (cancerous tumor of the esophagus), stomach and breast cancer.
Dr Rothwell has been reported by The New York Times as stating, ““What really jumps out at you in terms of prevention is the striking 75 percent reduction in esophageal cancer and a 40 to 50 percent reduction in colorectal cancer, which is the most common cancer right now,” And, “In terms of prevention, anyone with a family history would be sensible to take aspirin,”
This all seems like great news, and it is! However, it is also known that the taking of regular doses of aspirin does come with significant risks for some people. It can carry a greater risk of internal bleeding in the stomach and brain.
In an editorial in the The Lancet, professors from Harvard Medical School were cautious about the findings, saying that despite the convincing case that benefits of aspirin outweigh the harms of major extracranial bleeding, the findings do not account for less severe bleeding.
Any decision to take or not take aspirin should of course be make in consultation with a doctor, as “even a low dose can substantially increase the risk of serious gastrointestinal bleeding.”, Dr Eric Jacobs from the American Cancer Society has said.
Dr. Otis W. Brawley, chief medical officer and executive vice president of the American Cancer Society has also been reported as saying , “I’m not ready to say that everybody ought to take a baby aspirin a day to prevent cancer.”