Daily Aspirin May Reduces Cancer Mortality
A new study by the American Cancer Society (ACS) found that people who consume low dose of aspirin to cut the risk of heart related problems, may have an added benefit as its use modestly lowers cancer mortality rates, but the benefit may not be as great as was previously thought.
The reduction was found in people using the drug for five years and among those taking it for shorter periods of time. However, previous research found an estimated 37 percent cut in cancer mortality among aspirin users, twice as much as the current study.
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Basically there are two types of aspirin usage. Prescribed aspirin is aimed to relieve symptoms such as rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis and other conditions where the immune system attacks joints and organs causing swelling and pain. Non-prescription aspirin is used to reduce fever and to relieve mild to moderate pain.
In order to conduct the study, ACS researchers led by Eric J. Jacobs analyzed information from 100,139 predominantly elderly participants who reported aspirin use on questionnaires, did not have cancer at the start of the study. They were followed up after 11 years.
On carefully monitoring these people the researchers noticed that daily aspirin use was associated with an estimated 16 percent lower overall risk of cancer mortality, both among people who reported taking aspirin daily for at least five years and among those who reported shorter term daily use.
The lower overall cancer mortality was driven by about 40 percent lower mortality from cancers of the gastrointestinal tract and about 12 percent lower mortality from cancers outside the gastrointestinal tract.
Experts say healthy middle aged people start taking aspirin around the age of 45 or 50 for 20-30 years could expect to reap the most benefit because cancer rates rise with age.
The authors note that their study was observational, not randomized, and therefore could have underestimated or overestimated potential effects on cancer mortality.
"Expert committees that develop clinical guidelines will consider the totality of evidence about aspirin's risks and benefits when guidelines for aspirin use are next updated," said Jacobs. "Although recent evidence about aspirin use and cancer is encouraging, it is still premature to recommend people start taking aspirin specifically to prevent cancer. Even low-dose aspirin can substantially increase the risk of serious gastrointestinal bleeding. Decisions about aspirin use should be made by balancing the risks against the benefits in the context of each individual's medical history. Any decision about daily aspirin use should be made only in consultation with a health care professional."
The study was published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute (JNCI.)