Aspirin May Prevent Cancer
December 1, 2012

Aspirin Use Could Help Prevent Liver Disease, Cancer

redOrbit Staff & Wire Reports — Your Universe Online

Aspirin and several other commonly-used types of painkillers could held a person stave off liver cancer and other forms of hepatic disease, according to new research published on Wednesday.

According to Ryan Jaslow of CBS News, the study, which appears in the December 5 edition of the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, people who took aspirin were 41 percent less likely to develop hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) and 45 percent less likely to die from chronic liver disease.

Those who used non-aspirin, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, or NSAIDs such as ibuprofen or naproxen sodium, were 26 percent less likely to succumb to liver disease, the researchers noted. However, the study, which analyzed more than 300,000 men and women, aged 50 to 71, for a period of 10 to 12 years, found no link between NSAIDs and a reduced risk of developing HCC, Jaslow added.

"These associations are prominent with the use of aspirin, and if confirmed, might open new vistas for chemoprevention of hepatocellular carcinoma and chronic liver disease," the authors of the joint National Institutes of Health (NIH) / AARP study wrote, according to MedPage Today Senior Staff Writer Crystal Phend.

"Aspirin, in particular, when used exclusively or with other non-aspirin NSAIDs showed a consistent protective effect related to both HCC incidence and CLD mortality, regardless of the frequency or exclusivity of use," they added, according to Jaslow.

Not all experts are buying into the study's findings, however. In an accompanying editorial, the University of Ottawa's Isra Levy and Dr. Carolyn Pim argue that there are other ways to combat liver disease and liver cancer - methods which do not increase a person's bleeding risk the way that aspirin or NSAIDs do, Phend explained.

Additionally, the average person has such a low risk of developing HCC that the potential bleeding risk associated with this type of preventative treatment doesn't seem worth the risk, Henry Ford Hospital hepatologist Dr. Mary Ann Huang added during an interview with the MedPage Today writer.

"The cohort was pulled from six states (California, Florida, Louisiana, New Jersey, North Carolina, and Pennsylvania) and two metropolitan areas (Atlanta and Detroit)," Phend said. "Among the respondents, 73 percent reported aspirin use and 56 percent used other NSAIDs. Aspirin's effects were independent of frequency of use. All the results were adjusted for age, sex, race or ethnicity, body mass index, cigarette smoking, alcohol consumption, and diabetes."

"The researchers suggested that the apparent advantage of NSAID use in the cohort may have been due to anti-inflammatory or other mechanisms," she added. "They acknowledged, though, that the lack of dose response and finding of only monthly links to non-aspirin NSAID use 'suggests that the findings should be interpreted with some caution, because they may also reflect an unmeasured confounder.'"