Aspirin, that old medicine cabinet standby, may just be the right tool to prevent and treat some forms of cancer, say British researchers.
Results of a large analyses of published data by scientists at Oxford University show that over just a three to four year period, daily aspirin use reduces the long-term risk of some cancers as well as the risk of it spreading throughout the body (metastasis) compared with placebo. The analysis reviewed some 34 clinical and observational trials of more than 69,000 patients.
Aspirin was shown to reduce the risk of colorectal cancer by 38 percent, which was similar to results from other investigations. Esophageal, gastric, and breast cancer also shows high rates of risk reduction. Cancer-related deaths were 15 percent lower among aspirin takers The mortality study looked at results of more than 50 clinical trials of more than 100,000 patients.
The research was published in the March 21 issue of the British medical journal The Lancet, by Peter Rothwell, Professor of Clinical Neurology at the University of Oxford. However, he cautions that not everyone will benefit from daily consumption of aspirin. Rothwell had previously shown that daily aspirin could lower cancer risk over longer periods of at least a decade.
In addition to side effects that can include gastrointestinal bleeding, other clinical studies find no link between aspirin and cancer prevention. Other cancer experts around the globe, including those from Australia, New Zealand, the UK and the US, caution that much more work is needed before a firm connection between cancer prevention and aspirin can be established.
For those with heart disease, the benefits of daily aspirin are thought to outweigh these risks.