September 21, 2009

Aspirin Cuts Colon Cancer Risk

Beginning a daily aspirin regimen could cut a person's colon cancer risk in half, researchers reported on Monday.

In a study led by John Burn of the Institute of Human Genetics at Newcastle University in Britain, researchers found that people with Lynch syndrome "“ a genetic disorder that adds to their risk of certain types of cancer "“ could benefit from a daily dose of aspirin.

Lynch syndrome accounts for about 5 percent of all colon cancers, according to the Associated Press. It has been linked to an increased risk of stomach, colon, brain, skin, and prostate cancers.

Burn's team studied 1,071 people with Lynch syndrome. Some participants received aspirin, while others were given a placebo.

"We believe that aspirin may have an effect on the survival of aberrant (faulty) stem cells in the colon," Burn said in a presentation at the ECCO-ESMO European cancer congress in Berlin.

Researchers completed follow-up tests 10 years after starting the study. They noted that six people who received aspirin developed colon cancer, compared to 16 people from the placebo group.

"There is also a reduction in endometrial cancer," said Burn.

Burn noted that even after participants discontinued aspirin use after 4 years, the benefits of treatment remained.

"If aspirin reduced the chances of such cells surviving, this would explain our results," he said.

Burn added that additional studies involving various doses would be conducted to determine how aspirin works to fight colon cancer.

However, 11 percent of study participants did report stomach bleeding or ulcers, a common side effect of aspirin tablets.


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