Study: Aspirin cuts risk of some cancers
DAILY, long-term doses of aspirin can slash the risk of cancer of the digestive tract, according to an overview of research published yesterday.
Aspirin greatly reduces the risk of developing and dying from bowel, stomach and oesophageal cancers, its authors said. They found that taking aspirin for 10 years could cut bowel cancer cases by around 35 per cent and deaths by 40 per cent.
Rates of oesophageal and stomach cancers were cut by 30 per cent, and deaths from these cancers by 35 per cent to 50 per cent.
To gain these benefits, people have to take a daily dose of 75mg to 100mg for at least five years, and probably 10 years for those between the ages of 50 and 65.
No benefit was seen while they took aspirin for the first three years, and death rates were reduced only after five years.
Aspirin has long been considered to give a boost in the fight against cardiovascular disease, and has also been investigated for reputed anti-cancer effects.
This is the first to throw up broad evidence that it can be a shield against these types of cancer, the scientists said.
The study, published in the European cancer journal Annals Of Oncology, was led by Jack Cuzick, a professor at the the Centre for Cancer Prevention at the Queen Mary University of London.
The research said there was a downside to taking daily doses of aspirin - potential side effects such as peptic ulcers and bleeding in the digestive tract. In a very small number of elderly people, the bleeding could be life-threatening.
It said further work was needed to see who would benefit most from taking aspirin and determining the right dose to maximise the protective effect.