Daily aspirin reduces risk of cancer

The Time “Healthland” blog reported that a new study published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute reporting that a daily aspirin reduces cancer risk.

The study, conducted by “researchers from the Epidemiology Research Program at the American Cancer Society in Atlanta,” was based on “data on 100,139 predominantly white men and women over age 60 with no history of cancer, who participated in the Cancer Prevention Study II Nutrition Cohort.”

The study reported “fresh evidence that popping a daily aspirin is associated with a lower risk of dying from cancer.” The data included surveys of the participants regarding aspirin use in 1992-93, 1997, “and every two years thereafter until 2003.”

The data showed that “those taking a daily dose of aspirin for at least five years had a 16% lower risk of cancer death than” non-takers with “overall reduction in risk…driven by a 40% lower mortality risk from gastrointestinal tract cancers.”

Reuters reported that the result was less pronounced than in a study published earlier this year finding a 37 percent drop overall in cancer risk after 5 years of daily aspirin use.

MedPage Today reported the study found that “individuals who were current daily users for 5 years or more at baseline had an 8% decrease in cancer mortality compared with non-users,” while “the association was stronger, with a 16% decrease for those with daily use for 5 years or more, when the analysis included data collected periodically during 2 decades of follow-up.”

In the study, “baseline aspirin users tended to be more educated, former smokers, and obese, as well as to have a history of cardiovascular disease and diabetes. Male users also were more likely to have a history of prostate specific antigen (PSA) testing, and women users were more likely to have a history of mammography.”

HealthDay (8/10, Reinberg) reported, “Aspirin’s possible side effects – notably the higher risk of bleeding episodes – need to be taken into account when considering its use.”

Medscape added, “In an accompanying editorial, John A. Baron, MD, from the University of North Carolina School of Medicine in Chapel Hill, writes that ‘overall, the well-conducted ACS study is an echo of other data on aspirin and cancer mortality, not a resounding confirmation.'” He also “urges caution with regard to the widespread recommendation to use aspirin to prevent cancer.”

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