Daily Aspirin Reduces Risk Of Cancer Death

Posted Sat, 12/18/2010 - 10:00am by Fred Lee

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A regular course of aspirin is often recommended for people with cardiovascular disease because aspirin helps to thin the blood and thereby reduce the risk of having a heart attack or stroke. A recent study has also found that a daily dose of aspirin (75 mg) can also protect a person from death due to certain cancers.

The data, published in The Lancet, is the result of a study out of Oxford University that looked at over 25,000 patients and determined that aspirin cut cancer deaths by as much as 20%. The findings therefore support aspirin's protective effects and indicate that the benefits outweigh the risks, which include stomach and intestinal bleeding.

In the study, patients who were regularly given aspirin between four to eight years saw a 25% reduction in their risk of cancer death during the trial period and 10% reduction in death from any cause when compared with the subjects who were not taking aspirin.

Furthermore, nearly half of the study group continued with long term administration of aspirin and experienced a protective effect for nearly 20 years after the study. The benefits applied to both men and women.

When looking at specific types of cancer, researchers saw a 40% decline in risk for bowel cancer, a 30% decline in risk for lung cancer, a 10% reduction in risk for prostate cancer, and a 60% decline in risk for esophageal cancer. Numbers for cancers of the stomach, pancreas, and brain were not as easy to come by because of there were fewer deaths attributed to these conditions. The same was true for breast and ovarian cancer, a fact that the authors attribute to an insufficient number of women in the study, though these issues are being addressed in ongoing studies.

The authors stress that this is not a declaration for people to start taking aspirin, but they do indicate that the findings are intriguing, even in lieu of the risks of bleeding, which stands at about 1 in 1000. This risk is low for middle-aged people but increases significantly over the age of 75 years. With this in mind, health experts suggest that the time to start taking aspirin is between the ages of 45 to 50 years of age and continuing for 25 years afterward.

With any medication, doctors recommend that people speak with their physicians before making any decisions regarding aspirin, as is the case with any big lifestyle change, which would also include changing your diet or level of physical activity.

If you have questions or concerns about cancer, speak with your doctor and visit the website for the American Cancer Society. For more information about the benefits or risks of aspirin, visit the website for the Mayo Clinic.

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