A new study has found that daily low-dose aspirin can lower the risk of overall cancer by three percent, but larger reductions were seen in colon and gastrointestinal tumors. The benefits were only seen after six years of taking daily low-dose aspirin.
Senior researcher Dr. Andrew Chan said, “That makes sense, because cancers don’t typically develop overnight. They take years to develop, so you would have to take aspirin for a long time to prevent cancer. There is scientific evidence that aspirin has an effect on certain biological pathways that can result in cancer.” He added that aspirin also has the ability to reduce some cancer-causing proteins as well as inflammation.
The study did not show that daily aspirin prevents cancer, but only that it reduces a person’s risk.
Dr. Chan added, “The evidence has reached the point that it may be useful to consider using aspirin to prevent colon cancer. But we are still not at a point where the general population should take aspirin for cancer prevention.”
Coauthor of the study Dr. Ernest Hawk from the University of Texas added, “This is another study suggesting reductions in gastrointestinal and colon cancers among people who take aspirin for other reasons, such as reducing the risk of heart attacks or treating arthritis and relieving pain.”
The researchers looked at the association between low-dose aspirin use among over 130,000 men and women. During a 30-year follow-up over 20,000 cancer cases emerged. Taking low-dose aspirin twice weekly was associated with a three percent reduction in overall cancer risk, a 15 percent reduction for gastrointestinal cancers and a 19 percent reduction for colon cancer. Daily aspirin was not associated with a reduction in breast, prostate, or lung cancer.
Dr. Hawk added, “Aspirin may serve as a relatively low-cost primary prevention for gastrointestinal and colon cancers, with reductions in cancers complementing recommended cancer screening.”
Researchers suggest that you speak with your doctor prior to beginning a daily regime of aspirin and weigh out the benefits and risks associated with daily aspirin use.