The regular use of aspirin significantly reduces the overall risk of cancer, especially colorectal and other gastrointestinal tract cancers, according to a study published in JAMA Oncology.1
The recent report supports the results of previous clinical studies that have also demonstrated that the daily use of aspirin reduces the risk of death from several common cancers, including lung, colorectal, and esophageal cancers.2
Take home points from the current JAMA study:
- Study participants who reported regular aspirin use had a 3 percent absolute lower risk of any type of cancer than did those not reporting regular aspirin use.
- Regular aspirin use reduced the risk of colorectal cancer by 19 percent and the risk of any gastrointestinal cancer by 15 percent.
- No reduction was seen in the risk of breast, prostate, or lung cancer.
- Aspirin’s protective benefit could be seen after five years of continuous use.
- Researchers estimate that regular aspirin use could prevent close to 30,000 gastrointestinal tract tumors each year and could prevent an additional 7,500 colorectal tumors among U.S. adults over 50 who have endoscopic screening.
The authors concluded that their findings imply that aspirin use would be expected to prevent a significant number of colorectal cancers above and beyond those that would be prevented by screening and may have even greater benefit in settings in which the resources to devote to cancer screening are lacking. Individuals should consider taking aspirin to reduce their risk of colorectal cancer, particularly those with other reasons for regular use, such as heart disease prevention. However, due to certain risks associated with aspirin (such as bleeding in the brain), individuals should discuss daily aspirin use with their doctor before beginning a preventive regimen.
- Cao Y, Wu K, Wang M, et al. Population-wide Impact of Long-term use of Aspirin and the Risk for Cancer. Jama Oncology. Published online March 3, 2016. doi:10.1001/jamaoncol.2015.6396.
- Rothwell PM, Fowkes FG, Belch JF, et al. Effect of daily aspirin on long-term risk of death due to cancer: analysis of individual patient data from randomised trials. The Lancet [early online publication]. December 7, 2010.