Daily Aspirin Linked to Steep Drop in Cancer Risk

Long-term use of a daily low-dose aspirin dramatically cuts the risk of dying from a wide array of cancers, a new investigation reveals. Specifically, a British research team unearthed evidence that a low-dose aspirin (75 milligrams) taken daily for at least five years brings about a 10 percent to 60 percent drop in fatalities depending on the type of cancer. The finding stems from a fresh analysis of eight studies involving more than 25,500 patients, which had originally been conducted to examine the protective potential of a low-dose aspirin regimen on cardiovascular disease.

The current observations follow prior research conducted by the same study team, which reported in October that a long-term regimen of low-dose aspirin appears to shave the risk of dying from colorectal cancer by a third. "These findings provide the first proof in man that aspirin reduces deaths due to several common cancers," the study team noted in a news release. But the study's lead author, Prof. Peter Rothwell from John Radcliffe Hospital and the University of Oxford, stressed that "these results do not mean that all adults should immediately start taking aspirin."

"They do demonstrate major new benefits that have not previously been factored into guideline recommendations," he added, noting that "previous guidelines have rightly cautioned that in healthy middle-aged people, the small risk of bleeding on aspirin partly offsets the benefit from prevention of strokes and heart attacks." "But the reductions in deaths due to several common cancers will now alter this balance for many people," Rothwell suggested. Rothwell and his colleagues published their findings Dec. 7 in the online edition of The Lancet.
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