Have you ever had a headache? If you have taken a medicine to ease your headache, more than likely it was an Aspirin or a relative drug. Aspirin has been often used as an analgesic to relieve minor aches and pains, as an antipyretic to reduce fever and as an anti-inflammatory medicine. A latest study published in The Lancet confirmed that daily intake of aspirin can reduce the risk of dying from cancer by 21% after five years.
About the study
The study was conducted by Peter Rothwell, MD, PhD, FRCP, of John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford, England, and colleagues. Researchers gathered data from eight clinical studies to examine the effect of a daily dose (75mg to 500mg per day) of aspirin on preventing vascular events involving 25,570 patients, 674 of whom died from cancer. In all cases the trials compared aspirin to a placebo. The investigation revealed –
- 21% reduction in the number of deaths caused by cancer
- Reduction in death rates by 34% for all cancers and by 54% for gastrointestinal cancers after five years of treatment
- Dying from any cause (not just cancer) was 10% lower for those on 75mg of aspirin per day
Enrolled patients were also followed up after 20 years; by that point 1,634 of the original patients had died due to cancer. This long term daily aspirin treatment showed significant reduction in the death rates by cancers.
- Reduce 20-year prostate cancer risk by 10%
- Reduce lung cancer risk by 30%
- Reduce bowel cancer risk by 40%
- Reduce esophageal/throat cancer risk by 60%
A previous study by the same authors had suggested that long-term...
aspirin therapy can significantly reduce the number of cases of colon cancer. The latest study confirms the earlier results and concludes that similar effects can be shown for other types of cancers, such as esophageal, gastrointestinal, lung, brain, and pancreatic cancers.
The researchers explained that the benefits of daily aspirin for those aged 45 years or more far outweigh any side-effect risks. The best time to start daily aspirin would be when the risk of most cancers starts to rise significantly; during a person’s mid-40s.
How does aspirin prevent cancer?
According to Rothwell-“Essentially, aspirin encourages precancerous cells to commit cell “suicide.” “The cell realizes, as it were, that it’s got a problem and it self-destructs,” and there are mechanisms that lead cells to do that, and aspirin appears to encourage those mechanisms.
This is a significant finding related to the use of aspirin when taken for a long time. However, the study didn’t provide much information about side effects ,which might be one of the major reasons for discontinuation of the medicine. However, considering the positive effects in reducing the death rates due to cancer, there is no doubt that wider use of daily aspirin could potentially save thousands of lives in relation to cancer mortality alone.