Low-Dose Aspirin May Reduce Colon Cancer Risk


Taking low-dose aspirin daily may reduce the risk of colorectal cancer, new research finds. Prior research has shown higher doses of aspirin reduces the risk of colon cancer. But this study is among the first to show that lower doses which have less risk of side effects such as gastrointestinal bleeding may also be effective, said Eric Jacobs, strategic director of pharmacoepidemiology for the American Cancer Society. For this study, researchers in Scotland asked 2,279 people with colorectal cancer and 2,907 people without colorectal cancer to answer questions about diet and lifestyle choices could affect cancer risk. Participants were asked how often they took low-dose aspirin, as well as non-aspirin NSAIDs such as naproxen and ibuprofen in the year prior to their cancer diagnosis or recruitment in the study.

About 18.1 percent of those without cancer reported taking aspirin during that time, compared to 15.5 percent of those who had colorectal cancer. Participants who reported taking low-dose aspirin regularly for a year or more were about 22 percent less likely to have colorectal cancer. The reduction was clinically significant among those who reported taking low-dose aspirin for more than five years, according to the study: They were 30 percent less likely to develop cancer than their peers who didn't take the painkillers. Although the greatest risk reduction occurred in those consuming more than 525 milligrams of aspirin a week, the protective effect was present even for the lowest daily dose.

"The new case-control study from Scotland is one of the largest to date to have specifically examined low dose aspirin, and provides some evidence that using low-dose aspirin for five or more years may also reduce colorectal cancer risk," said Jacobs, who was not involved in the research. "However, previous studies of low-dose aspirin and colorectal cancer have had mixed results, and results of this study need to be confirmed." The study also found that taking any NSAID regularly was associated with a reduced risk of colorectal cancer, compared to those who didn't use the painkillers. The subjects and controls had been matched for age, gender and locale as well as smoking, alcohol and fiber intake, and the findings held true even after results were adjusted for weight, body-mass index and other factors, according to the study, which was published in the current issue of the journal Gut.
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