Reporting Dr. Maria Simbra
PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — A daily regimen of aspirin is known to help battle heart disease, but a new study suggests it may help prevent and fight cancer as well.
Two British studies point to a lower risk for people taking the low-cost, low-dose aspirin every day for at least three years.
“It’s easy to put these studies together and say, well yes, there is a statistically significant improvement with aspirin, in this case, and I was fascinated by it,” said Dr. Jane Raymond, an Allegheny General Hospital Cancer Specialist.
Many people take a daily baby aspirin to prevent heart attack and stroke.
Turns out though, in long-term, randomized, controlled trials of tens of thousands of people, the risk of developing cancer is 25 percent lower among aspirin-takers, and the risk of death from cancer was 37 percent lower.
Also, the risk for common types, like colon, lung and prostate were cut nearly in half.
“I would not be surprised if there are more and more studies adding aspirin particularly to other forms of adjuvant chemotherapy, and also in patients who already have spread of their cancer, adding aspirin to their treatment regimen,” said Dr. Raymond.
The three-cent a day tablet isn’t risk free, though, as bleeding in the brain and digestive tract are known risks.
“We always worry about the risk of bleeding, but I think the down side is small,” she said.
Aspirin may not be for people with ulcers or reflux, or who take blood thinners. But if you can tolerate aspirin, the benefits may outweigh the risks.
“After three years, the risk of bleeding tended to just sort of stabilize, and not be much of an issue, yet the benefit from aspirin continue,” Dr. Raymond added.
For Dr. Raymond, the studies are convincing.
“For my cancer patients who have no reason not to take aspirin, I’d say yeah go ahead,” she said.
Aspirin may work against cancer by interfering with substances secreted by platelets – a kind of blood cell important to clotting. Because these substances also make cells grow – that includes cancer cells – it’s possible aspirin shuts that down.
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