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article imageAspirin linked to lower lung cancer risk in women

By Sherene Chen-See     Apr 25, 2012 in Health
Aspirin is being touted once more for its potential cancer prevention properties, this time in the lungs. A new study has found women who took Aspirin twice a week had a lower risk of lung cancer, whether or not they smoked.
Aspirin, or acetylsalicylic acid, is a "non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug" or NSAID. Researchers evaluated past and current use of Aspirin, other NSAIDs, paracetamol, and certain steroids in 398 women with primary lung cancer, 65% of whom had never smoked before. Eight hundred fourteen women without cancer were also evaluated as controls and 88% of those women were never-smokers. Results of the study were published in the journal Lung Cancer.
Women who had taken Aspirin twice a week or more for at least a month had a significantly reduced risk of lung cancer. The risk reduction in never-smokers was 50%. In smokers, the risk reduction was even greater, at 62%.
In contrast, women taking other NSAIDs, paracetemol, steroid creams or steroid pills did not experience any reduction in lung cancer risk.
"Our results suggest that Aspirin consumption may reduce lung cancer risk... and are consistent with current understanding of the role of cyclo-oxygenase in lung carcinogenesis," wrote the investigators in their research paper. Aspirin blocks cyclo-oxygenase, which is an enzyme that promotes inflammation. Cyclo-oxygenase is also called COX-2, and is found in high amounts in tumours.
The study investigators say the results do not prove Aspirin directly protects against lung cancer and there may be other reasons for the risk reduction.
"The question about whether Aspirin use protects against lung cancer is still open to considerable debate at this point, and the published evidence to date is not conclusive," said lead investigator Dr. Wei-Yen Lim in an email to Reuters Health/MS NBC.
In order to truly assess the lung cancer-protective properties of Aspirin, a clinical study is required, where participants are randomly assigned to Aspirin or placebo.
"Avoiding tobacco smoke remains the best way to protect yourself," she added.
Still, the findings from this trial support other studies that have linked regular Aspirin use to lowered risks of certain types of cancer.
Aspirin has its own risks, such as gastrointestinal effects. If you are considering taking low-dose Aspirin, make sure to discuss it with your doctor.
More about Aspirin, aspirin and lung cancer, Lung cancer, lung cancer in women
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