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Last updated on April 16, 2014 at 14:14 EDT

Taking Low Dose Aspirin Daily Can Help Combat Cancer

December 7, 2010

Researchers at Oxford University and other British institutes have found that taking low-dose aspirin on a daily basis can help reduce the risk of cancer by 20 percent.

“Daily aspirin reduced deaths due to several common cancers during and after the trials,” the researchers wrote in The Lancet on Tuesday. “Benefit increased with duration of treatment and was consistent across the different study populations. These findings have implications for guidelines on use of aspirin and for understanding of carcinogenesis and its susceptibility to drug intervention.”

While the trial focused on colorectal cancer, showing that taking aspirin for at least five years reduces the risk of the disease, Oxford Professor Peter Rothwell and his the research team noted that “several lines of evidence suggest that aspirin might also reduce risk of other cancers, particularly of the gastrointestinal tract” but that there was no concrete proof that those claims were valid.

Rothwell and his colleagues conducted eight separate trials with more than 25,000 total subjects, and found that the fatality rate for certain types of cancer could be reduced by as much as one-fifth by consuming low-dose aspirin. According to AFP reporter Marlowe Hood, the studies ranged in length from four to eight years and included doses as low as 75 milligrams.

“These are very exciting and potentially important findings,” London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine (LSHTM) Professor Tom Meade, who worked on the study while a member of the Medical Research Council, said in a statement Monday. “They are likely to alter clinical and public health advice about low dose aspirin because the balance between benefit and bleeding has probably been altered towards using it.”

“Previous guidelines have rightly cautioned that in healthy middle-aged people the small risk of bleeding on aspirin partly offsets the benefit from prevention of strokes and heart attacks, but the reductions in deaths due to several common cancers will now alter this balance for many people,” Rothwell added in an interview with Reuters Health and Science Correspondent Kate Kelland Tuesday.

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