Long term aspirin may reduce overall cancer risk

Wise, J. BMJ 2016;352:i1319

Image source: Shannon

Taking low dose aspirin regularly for at least six years is associated with a modest but significant reduction in the risk of cancer, especially cancer of the gastrointestinal tract, research published in JAMA Oncology has shown.1

The study found that taking aspirin at least twice a week was associated with a 3% lower incidence of developing any type of cancer. This was primarily due to a 15% lower risk of gastrointestinal tract cancers and a 19% lower risk of cancers of the colon and rectum. But regular aspirin use was not associated with a lower risk of breast, advanced prostate, or lung cancer.

The new study used data from two large prospective studies: the Nurses’ Health Study and the Health Professionals Follow-Up Study. Among the 88 084 women and 47 991 men who underwent follow-up for as long as 32 years, the researchers found 20 414 cancers in women and 7571 in men.

The study found that, compared with non-regular use, regular aspirin was associated with a lower incidence of gastrointestinal tract cancers (relative risk 0.85 (95% confidence interval 0.80 to 0.91)), especially colorectal cancers (0.81 (0.75 to 0.88)). The benefit of aspirin in patients with gastrointestinal tract cancer was seen with the use of at least 0.5-1.5 standard aspirin tablets a week. The minimum duration associated with benefit was six years.

Read the full commentary here

Read the original research abstract here

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