Daily Dose Of Aspirin May Reverse Long-Term Obesity Cancer Risk

First Posted: Aug 18, 2015 08:42 AM EDT

Previous studies have shown the benefits of a dose of aspirin. Now, new findings published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology reveal that a regular dose of aspirin can help reduce the long-term risk of cancer in some who are overweight.

"This research adds to the growing body of evidence which links an increased inflammatory process to an increased risk of cancer," Professor Sir John Burn, professor of Clinical Genetics at Newcastle University who led the international research collaboration, said in a news release. "Obesity increases the inflammatory response. One explanation for our findings is that the aspirin may be supressing that inflammation which opens up new avenues of research into the cause of cancer."

Researchers discovered that being overweight more than doubles the risk of bowel cancer in those with Lynch Syndrome--what's otherwise known as an inherited genetic disorder that affects genes responsible for detecting and repairing damage in DNA. Close to half of patients suffering from the illness develop cancer, mainly in the bowel or the womb. Yet throughout a 10-year-study, researchers found that the risk could be counteracted with taking a regular dose of aspirin.

"This is important for people with Lynch Syndrome but affects the rest of us too. Lots of people struggle with their weight and this suggests the extra cancer risk can be cancelled by taking an aspirin," added Burn.

The randomised controlled trial is part of the CAPP 2 study involving scientists and clinicians from over 43 centres in 16 countries which followed nearly 1,000 patients with Lynch Syndrome, in some cases for over 10 years.

During the study, 937 people began taking either two aspirins (600 mg) every day for two years or a placebo. Researchers then did a ten year follow up, at which time 55 had developed bowel cancers. Obese patients were more than twice as likely to develop cancer at 2.75 times an increased risk. Findings also revealed that patients who were taking two aspirins a day had the same risk whether or not they were obese.

"For those with Lynch Syndrome, we found that every unit of BMI above what is considered healthy increased the risk of bowel cancer by 7%. What is surprising is that even in people with a genetic predisposition for cancer, obesity is also a driver of the disease. Indeed, the obesity-associated risk was twice as great for people with Lynch Syndrome as for the general population," Professor John Mathers, Professor of Human Nutrition at Newcastle University who led this part of the study, added.

"The lesson for all of us is that everyone should try to maintain a healthy weight and for those already obese the best thing is to lose weight. However, for many patients this can be very difficult so a simple aspirin may be able to help this group."

Though further research is needed, the study authors believe that aspirin may affect some of the underlying mechanisms that pre-dispose someone to cancer.

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