‘Aspirin a Day’ for Cancer Prevention?

Millions of American adults already take a daily aspirin to protect their hearts; the research on aspirin and cardiovascular health is clear and beneficial. Over the past two decades, scientific studies have been accumulating about the potential for aspirin – when used regularly – to provide an additional benefit: that of cancer risk reduction.

The state of the research about aspirin has led to the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (an influential federal advisory panel on disease prevention) to recommend aspirin as a way to lessen the chances of both cardiovascular disease and colorectal cancer. Subsequently, a growing body of research now ties aspirin to additional cancer protection.

Recently a long-term study, presented at the 2017 American Association for Cancer Research Annual Meeting, noted that both cancer development and cancer mortality were lower (over a 32-year period) in a group of more than 130,000 adults taking daily aspirin. Colorectal, lung, breast, and prostate cancers were all seen to be protected against with aspirin use.

These benefits were noted in those taking one-half tablet of aspirin up to 1.5 tablets of aspirin each week. The protective effect was even stronger in those taking higher dosages: of 2-7 tablets each week. Greater amounts than this of aspirin did not confer additional benefits. Of course, a health professional should be consulted before starting an aspirin regimen.

Sources

Cao Y, Stampfer M, Willett W, et al. Long-term aspirin use and total and cancer-specific mortality. Session MS.EP01.02 AACR Annual Meeting April 3, 2017.

Naqvi J. Long-term aspirin use associated with reduced risk of dying from cancer, study shows. Wash Post April 5, 2017.

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