Aspirin reduces cancer risk, study says
December 7th, 2010
05:31 PM ET

Aspirin reduces cancer risk, study says

If all you had to do to prevent cancer was take an aspirin every day, that would be amazing.

Of course, it's not quite that simple. But new research supports the idea that an aspirin does more than relieve pain and prevent cardiovascular events in some people: It also may guard against certain kinds of cancers.

A study in the Lancet looked at data from more than 25,000 patients, following up on previous trials. Researchers found that a daily aspirin reduced cancer risk by at least 20 percent during the 20-year period. Most study participants were from the United Kingdom.

When looking at specific cancers, aspirin appeared to lower esophageal cancer death risk by 60 percent, bowel cancer death risk by 40 percent, lung cancer death risk by 30 percent, and prostate cancer death risk by 10 percent. Other cancers had a smaller number of deaths associated with them in the sample of participants, so it was hard to define a risk reduction for them.

In a previous study, researchers showed that low-dose aspirin taken over a five-year period appears to lower the risk of colorectal cancer.

For a person who's healthy, middle aged, and has more than a 10 percent chance of a vascular event, heart attack or stroke, taking a daily aspirin is already recommended, said Dr. Peter Rothwell of the University of Oxford in England.

"If you accept that the current balance favors treatments in a lot of people anyway, these fairly large benefits from a cancer point of view, I think, just tip the balance further," he said at a news conference Monday.

Aspirin appears to affect the early development of cancer cells, Rothwell told the BBC. Aspirin may reduce the rate of growth of cancer cells, and even prompt the mutated cells to self-destruct.

Another potential explanation is that aspirin reduces inflammation, including chronic inflammation, which can lead to cancer, said Dr. Ed Kim, lung cancer expert at the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, who was not involved with the study.

Because the risk of cancer goes up with age, the benefit from aspirin also goes up with age, and it also appears to increase the longer you take aspirin, Rothwell said.

It would be sensible to begin taking the daily aspirin before your cancer risk goes up - perhaps around age 45, Rothwell said. He suggests continuing the regimen for 25 or 30 years and then stopping, because the risk of bleeding from aspirin goes up dramatically at age 75.

Aspirin can impair platelets, the part of the blood that helps clotting occur, Kim said. As a result, bleeding may not stop immediately if an older person taking aspirin has a bruise or cut. Bleeding in the stomach and intestine due to irritation may also occur, which can be dangerous.

The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, the same group that some 40-something women are still angry at because of last year's mammogram guidelines, recommends against taking aspirin to prevent colorectal cancer in people with average risk for that disease.

Dr. Igor Astsaturov of the Fox Chase Cancer Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, said that if he were a primary care physician, he would recommend aspirin to patients based on the benefits for cancer and cardiovascular risk. He noted that the most pronounced effects for cancer prevention were seen around age 65 in this study, but that the long-term users are the ones who got the most benefit.

Kim said he will personally "strongly consider" taking the daily aspirin as a result of this study, but would not automatically start any patient on it without discussing all risks and benefits. This research does not definitively prove that aspirin protects against cancer, he said, and it has its own limitations.

Bottom line: The results are not entirely conclusive, but if you are interested, ask your doctor if aspirin is right for you.

soundoff (49 Responses)
  1. IMHO

    The daily aspirin regimin also makes you a favored candidate at your local blood blank since the blood thinning properties of aspirin helps facilitate and speed up your donation.

    December 7, 2010 at 18:20 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Really?

      Sounds a little reckless to me. Blood donation doesn't take much time and a donor recipient who's undergoing surgery, a hemophiliac, or bleeding out will have increased risks from a donation that's contaminated with blood-thinning properties. That's why patients undergoing elective surgery are told to stop taking aspirin several days prior to the procedure.

      December 7, 2010 at 18:46 | Report abuse |
    • IMHO

      Sorry. Didn't mean to set you off. My original remark was intended as tongue-in-cheek. The Bloodmobile technicians are always made aware ahead of time that I'm on a prescribed half-aspirin regimin. I've never once had any advers experience (and I'm a 2 Gallon Donor). But I do notice that I'm getting up and going for my T-shirt, cookie and glass of orange juice, at the front of the bus, before even some of the others who were hooked up before me.

      December 7, 2010 at 19:06 | Report abuse |
    • Acaraho

      To Really?:

      People on an aspirin regime have no restrictions when donating whole blood. It's only platelet donors who have to refrain from aspirin products for up to 72 hours when donating.

      December 7, 2010 at 20:40 | Report abuse |
    • Daina

      However it does not speed up red blood cell production hence this donation angle makes no sense.

      December 7, 2010 at 21:45 | Report abuse |
    • Korreon

      What's the point? We will all die..... 🙁 ....... it's the truth

      December 8, 2010 at 09:22 | Report abuse |
  2. ObjectiveGuy

    Hope so. I take one low-dose aspirin daily due to high cholesterol, so it would be great if it had a dual effect.

    December 7, 2010 at 18:26 | Report abuse | Reply
  3. Christopher Alan Fields - Muncie Indiana USA

    Avoiding so called Fluoride AKA Toxic and Radioactive Waste in Water and other Products would be a good way to Reduce Your Risk of Cancer and Also Avoid the Dangerous so called Vaccines too. Both of the Weapons I Mentioned are Part of the Eugenics Plan that is Killing Us All Off Slowly.

    December 7, 2010 at 18:29 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Wzrd1

      If YOU are an example of what is being killed off in a eugenics plan, I'm all for it.
      The worlds NEEDS LESS idiots, not more.

      December 7, 2010 at 18:42 | Report abuse |
    • IMHO

      And remember to keep your tinfoil hat on snugly to protect your brain from those pesky outer space alien radiations.

      December 7, 2010 at 19:08 | Report abuse |
    • hunter jumper

      it's "fewer" idiots, not "less"

      December 7, 2010 at 19:13 | Report abuse |
    • love

      eat organic produce and drink spring water

      December 7, 2010 at 19:20 | Report abuse |
    • Dangerous Drugs

      Christopher, you are exactly right! Don't listen to those fools who are in denial about any negative affect in fluoride and in taking dangerous vaccines, e.g., flu shot, etc. that have been said to be quite dangerous to the human body. All a person has to do is Google these items such as Dangers+fluoride. Also, Vaccines+dangers. This is the reason why so many people are getting sick and even dying because they refuse to believe what science has discovered and what is now being revealed about the dangers in these two as well as many other products!

      December 7, 2010 at 19:44 | Report abuse |
    • player 1

      In other news water is wet... i dislike nerds

      December 7, 2010 at 20:59 | Report abuse |
    • val venus

      i agree chris dont let these sheep get to you

      December 7, 2010 at 21:51 | Report abuse |
    • Wzrd1 is a sheep

      These people are idiots who believe everything the television tells them too. They do not do a lick of research and vilify those who actually DO and care enough to help others. Don't listen to those morons like Wzrd1 and others. They are typical sheep.

      December 10, 2010 at 15:39 | Report abuse |
  4. joseph kola

    This is quite an enlightenment because i'v read a lot of articles on aspirin,but i'v come to appreciate its broad medical significance better now

    December 7, 2010 at 18:40 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. Michelle

    This is great news. I've been on daily aspirin therapy since I was 29 and had blood clots and phlebitis that lead to a vein ligation in my left leg. I'm 43 now and have been on daily aspirin for more than a decade. If there's any truth to daily aspirin perhaps lower the risk of getting some cancer, I'm all set!

    December 7, 2010 at 18:47 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. donna

    Throw the cigarettes away and eat an asprin a day... now THAT would be Health Care Reform!

    December 7, 2010 at 18:51 | Report abuse | Reply
  7. Nick

    I love the word, "may." I MAY be an astronaut someday, just like aspirin MAY reduce your risk of cancer!

    December 7, 2010 at 19:02 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Justin

      except "may" in this case is just being used to show that people in the study had lower cancer death risk that couldn't for sure be attributed to aspirin. pretty terrible analogy

      December 7, 2010 at 19:09 | Report abuse |
    • IMHO

      Right. I know what you mean. And I MAY hit the lottery some day. But, what the hey. Just like the lottery: you won't win if you don't play. Since I'm a Type II diabetic and have to take the daily aspirin anyway, to help preclude possible future cardiovascular problems, I'm happy to accept the bonus benefits as well.

      December 7, 2010 at 19:13 | Report abuse |
    • Jason

      Words like "may" and "suggests" in scientific literature is used to indicate a level of uncertainty- this style of study can only determine correlative results (as I gather from only a quick once-over). Since low dose aspirin use correlated with increased survival (lower death rate from cancer), the authors can conclude that aspirin "may" be responsible. However causation cannot be proven simply through correlation, and since causation could not be proven, the authors had to soften their result claim, hence the use of "may". Of course it would be nice to have definitive proof, but that would require a prospective trial, with a group of subjects as the control arm...i.e...ones that you would knowingly subject to an increased risk of death from cancer in the light of this study...this raises many questions regarding study design/morality

      December 7, 2010 at 19:31 | Report abuse |
  8. carolyn

    if you can't take an asprin (allergic) is there another alturnative?

    December 7, 2010 at 19:17 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Jason

      Not that I've seen a large-scale study on: the data for most of these comes from a combination of studies, and there are large groups of people who have been prescribed low-dose aspirin vs. ibuprofen, acetominaphen, celecoxib, etc. Once the mechanism responsible for low-dose aspirin protecting against cancer death is determined, then likely there would be several NSAID (i.e. non-aspirin but aspirin effect-like drugs) alternatives. For now, only small scale studies have been performed, and largely either cancer type-specific, or inconclusive results have been reported.
      Try browsing through some of the trial result summaries reported here for more:

      December 7, 2010 at 19:25 | Report abuse |
    • ray

      google Superaspirin, it might be what you are looking for..

      December 7, 2010 at 19:42 | Report abuse |
    • Natural is Best

      The alternative , or really the first line should be to eat lots of fruits that packed with agents that work to protect you cancers. They will never tell you this of course because BAYER HELLO IS ADVERTISING ON THE BOTTOM OF THIS PAGE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      December 10, 2010 at 15:26 | Report abuse |
  9. Jason

    Note that this study found significnat effects of low-dose (i.e. baby) aspirin specifically on reducing the risk of cancer death. They did not find that this regimen necessarily reducing the risks of being diagnosed with one of the aforementioned cancer types, but it will increase your chances of survival. The latter is likely possible due to the decreased chronic inflammation associated with daily low-dose aspirin users, and the consequent slower-growing or slower-progressing tumors that would result from that environmental modification (i.e. chronic inflammation can accelerate the growth and/or progression of tumors from various tissues). Now if we can take the obesity epidemic in the "first" world countries, we can really improve not only cancer risk but quality and length of life...

    December 7, 2010 at 19:19 | Report abuse | Reply
  10. Andy

    The main active ingredient in aspirin was found in a tropical rain forrest, which hundreds of acres disappear an hour.

    – A

    December 7, 2010 at 19:31 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Jason

      While I don't know who first produced what we recognize today as commerical aspirin, the Chippewa and Ojibwa used to use birch bark as a pain-killer. One of the "active ingredients" (i.e. one of the pain-killing ingredients) found in birch bark was salicylic acid, which was acetylated in order to raise the pH and make it easier on the stomach once ingested. Acetylsalicylic acid is the active ingredient of aspirin. I have no doubt that it can be found in several rain forests on this planet, but this one is also found much closer to home, i.e. the NE and midwest U.S.

      December 7, 2010 at 19:36 | Report abuse |
    • Rick Springfield

      Salicylic acid is a byproduct of chemical synthesis in today's aspirin production. You can find some natural sources but its not the Beyer brand in the store. In the height of the industrial revolution of the early 1900's it was synthesized from coal tar. Strangely it was the natural gas producers who ran the street light companies who found out how to produce it since they were given all the coal tar they could take from the companies who had coal furnaces.

      December 7, 2010 at 21:43 | Report abuse |
  11. Dr.Natural

    Originally, the active ingredient in aspirin was derived from willow bark, not birch. Either get your facts straight or don't post. There is already enough misinformation/disinformation out there, thanks.

    December 7, 2010 at 19:46 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Jim

      birch/willow, whatever . . .

      there is already enough disinformation out there

      there are already too many $^$%holes too

      December 7, 2010 at 20:08 | Report abuse |
  12. mario

    AAAWWW BS iT does!

    December 7, 2010 at 20:03 | Report abuse | Reply
  13. hsr0601

    "1. As we are all aware , TAKING A BATH day-to day is best for improving resistance to depression as ""our body is also taking a breath"".
    I firmly believe all disease are due to our broken immunity.

    2. After eating too much, we might feel so depressed.
    We are living in an age of Automation , naturally so the excess diet is more likely to work against wellness since the residues lingering in our body should act as a hot bed for all forms of germs, bacteria, virus and the likes, which I think spread to a variety of diseases including cancer diabetes, depression & mental diseases & beyond.

    3. Sunlight & Fruits might make us positive and optimistic.

    December 7, 2010 at 20:37 | Report abuse | Reply
  14. someoneelse

    It would be nice if they would stop saying 'may' in everything they put out nowadays.

    December 7, 2010 at 20:38 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Pseudo Science at its Best

      They use the word 'may' alot in those so-called 'scientific' articles because laws are very loose in what they can claim to say is healthy and what is not thanks to heavy lobbying and bribery on the part of companies that stand to benefit.

      Why do you think now you see commercials that advertise sugary garbage cereal as actually HELPING children think better??? They are able to stretch the truth more and basically out and out lie to sell their crap to uneducated people who don't know any better. NO Frosted Mini Wheats is NOT a good way to start the day for adults let alone children. Are they freaking nuts?! Its garbage!!!! Years ago they NEVER advertised it as such and now they can. Is the recipe healthier? No. They have paid off the FDA to allow them to advertise it as such. This is the same thing.

      December 10, 2010 at 15:43 | Report abuse |
  15. apollo

    Lol arguing over the internet is like winning the olympics, you may win but your still retarded

    December 7, 2010 at 20:58 | Report abuse | Reply
    • apollo 13

      you mean the "special olympics"....retard.

      December 7, 2010 at 21:23 | Report abuse |
    • We have a problem

      It's "you're," not "your," so quit the name-calling.

      December 8, 2010 at 10:50 | Report abuse |
  16. Billy

    My sister said she took aspirin to prevent a blood clot formation during a transatlantic flight and ended up with bruises all over her legs. I am not sure if it is worth it to prevent one illness only to risk another one.

    December 7, 2010 at 21:16 | Report abuse | Reply
  17. Robert A. Wascher, MD

    Aspirin reduces chronic inflammation (itself a risk factor for some types of cancer) through its inhibition of an important enzyme known as COX. This enzyme has been shown to play an important direct role in the growth of multiple types of cancer, including colorectal cancer. Thus, it is not surprising that this new study confirms the findings of multiple prior studies linking even low-dose aspirin (as little as 75 mg per day) to a significant reduction in the risk of colorectal cancer, and other cancers as well.

    Robert A. Wascher, MD, FACS

    Author, "A Cancer Prevention Guide for the Human Race"

    December 7, 2010 at 21:32 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Your a business man Doctor

      Have stock invested in Bayer doctor?

      December 10, 2010 at 15:45 | Report abuse |
  18. Elizabeth

    My mom swore by aspirin...as a family we never bought into the scare tactics perpetrated mostly by the makers of tylenol......good to hear of all of its benefits...for what it is worth....we have all been on a regular aspirin for years as were my moms sisters.....no cancer and the most of the older generation lived well into their 90s.

    December 7, 2010 at 21:37 | Report abuse | Reply
  19. razzlea

    interesting article !Check out my health and fitness blog http://razzlea.blogspot.com/

    December 8, 2010 at 09:21 | Report abuse | Reply
  20. Lobo

    Please tell Robert A. Wascher, MD – that the virus responsible for the inflammation is the same one responsible for cyst and psoriasis – the organ of choice is in the bile ducts of the liver which also is affecting absorption ( gall stones, kidney stones, obesity, aneurism, and Alzheimer's) – it won't show up on any of your liver panels or any of your test you preform.

    Medical studies:
    85% of all breast cancer patients show a 5 – 15 lbs, gain prior to their diagnosis
    21 year old male dies of meningitis like symptoms – donates his organs – 4 organ recipients have developed cancer
    1 out of every 2 males, 1 out of every 3 females will develop cancer
    There has been a MAJOR increase of adolescent kids getting kidney stones
    There is a major increase of obesity.

    Kill the virus that causes gall stones & kidney stones and you'll cure cancer, congestive heart failure, renal failure and a whole lot of other disease processes – inflammation is causing the disease processes and anyother of these bull roar studies they preform should be classified under the hype of "Snake Oil Salesman"!!!!!!!!!!!

    If your reading this Dr Wascher – email me at lkdaniels@mchsi.com – I've only scratched the surface of the info I have!!!!!!!!!!

    December 8, 2010 at 13:04 | Report abuse | Reply
  21. Damien Woody

    It would be excellent. But we need to know prevent conducting the review for each year. By experience i say that this disease causes severe pain and therefore we must take medicine as hydrocodone we served to control the pain. Although should always be prescribed by the doctor and should not be taken without a prescription.

    Damien Woody

    December 8, 2010 at 15:24 | Report abuse | Reply
  22. Phil, Ohio

    Not bad for me. but for others, their stomach bleeds out.

    December 8, 2010 at 22:13 | Report abuse | Reply
  23. Luciana

    Review by J. Flood for Rating: Bayer aspirin was alywas a fixture in our house and my grandparents. I suppose I'm predisposed to trust the brand. It seems to work just fine. The packaging is a little over the top and I'm sure that's worked it's way into the price. Overall I'm happy with it.

    October 11, 2012 at 21:39 | Report abuse | Reply

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