August 12, 2012

Study Suggests Aspirin Could Help Prevent Cancer-Related Deaths

redOrbit Staff & Wire Reports

Taking a daily dose of aspirin can help fight off stomach, esophageal or colorectal cancer, claims a new study published in the latest edition of the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

In a study of more than 100,000 healthy individuals who were placed on a daily low-dose aspirin regiment, researchers with the American Cancer Society in Atlanta discovered that the painkilling drug can reduce the risk of developing cancer and slow the spread of the disease, Guardian Science Correspondent Ian Sample said.

Specifically, they found that there was a 40% reduced chance of deaths from gastrointestinal cancers, including esophageal, stomach and colorectal cancers, as well as a 12% lower risk of death from other forms of cancer over the course of a decade, Sample and Telegraph Science Correspondent Nick Collins reported.

Combined, low-dose aspirin was found to reduce the risk of cancer-related death by 16%.

"Although earlier research had found similar results, the new paper adds to the evidence in favor of taking the drug as a protective measure," Collins wrote on Friday. "Doctors have previously called for low doses of aspirin to be taken from middle age, especially for people with a family history of cancer or heart disease, which it is also thought to protect against."

Most of the study participants were over the age of 60, and none of them had any previous history of cancer. A total of 100,139 men and women took part in the research, which was headed up by Dr. Eric J. Jacobs, Strategic Director of Pharmacoepidemiology at the American Cancer Society's Epidemiology Research Program.

While the Jacobs-led study "bolsters the case that daily aspirin may help protect against cancer," it also shows that "the effect seems weaker than previously thought," Frederik Joelving of Reuters explained.

Joelving added that "the final chapter on the popular but controversial drug has yet to be written, experts say, because like earlier research the new work has considerable limitations."

"News about the cancer potential of aspirin use has been really encouraging lately," Dr. Michael Thun of the American Cancer Society, who also worked on the study, told Reuters. "Things are moving forward, but it is still a work in progress."