A new study recently determined a link between taking an aspirin daily and a reduction in the odds of developing and dying from colon, stomach, or esophageal cancer. With millions already taking the anti-inflammatory drug to prevent or treat heart disease, according to research, the benefits of aspirin therapy for preventing cancer decidedly outweigh the risks, which include gastrointestinal bleeding and peptic ulcers as the most serious side effects, especially for those 70 years of age or older.
Researchers reported the specifics in the August 6 edition of the Annals of Oncology: taking aspirin for 10 years could cut colon cancer risk by around 35 percent and deaths from colon cancer by 40 percent. Daily aspirin also can reduce the risk of esophageal and stomach cancers by 30 percent and deaths from these cancers by 35 to 50 percent, the investigators reported.
While some suggest the findings are anecdotal, Dr. Leonard Lichtenfeld, deputy chief medical officer at the American Cancer Society, said this study “rises to the level that people should have a discussion with their doctor,” offering strong evidence that the practice might prevent cancer.
The reason daily aspirin therapy is effective is still unknown. Aspirin interferes with blood-clotting by reducing platelets in the blood, and platelets are thought to help cancer cells travel throughout the body. Theories suggest that aspirin’s limiting effect on platelets might make it harder for cancer cells to spread as a result.
Another theory is that aspirin, an anti-inflammatory agent, might stop cells from dividing. This lowers the odds that a cell will mutate when it divides, Cuzick explained. “You are less likely to have a mutation that will cause cancer,” Cuzick said.
For more information, view the full report at the Annals of Oncology website
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