A new study by the American Cancer Society emphasizes what many researchers and medical professionals have thought true for years – a daily regimen of aspirin may very well help keep individuals from developing cancer.
According to press releases about the study, analysis of information gathered from some 100,000 predominantly elderly participants showed a 16 percent reduction in cancer mortality for daily aspirin users. Dr. Eric Jacobs, lead author of the study, noted that the largest benefits were observed for stomach and bowel cancer. The study subjects were followed for 11 years and did not have cancer at its start.
Sir John Burn, a professor of clinical genetics at Newcastle University who has done previous studies involving daily aspirin consumption, said: “This is another brick in the wall of the evidence that has been accumulating since 1988. There is a general feeling that we are marching steadily towards accepting that a bit of aspirin is a good thing.”
The study indicated that taking aspirin after a cancer diagnosis may also help stop the cancer from spreading. One theory is that the salicylic acid in aspirin may cause diseased cells to “commit suicide”, similar to the effect salicylates have on plants.
Still, Dr. Jacobs warns patients that even though this study and other similar studies show promise, they should never start an aspirin regimen without consulting a doctor.
“Although recent evidence about aspirin use and cancer is encouraging, it is still premature to recommend people start taking aspirin specifically to prevent cancer,” stressed Jacobs. “Even low-dose aspirin can substantially increase the risk of serious gastrointestinal bleeding. Decisions about aspirin use should be made by balancing the risks against the benefits in the context of each individual’s medical history.”
As a complement to studies such as this one, clinical trials involving proper aspirin dosage are underway in various research labs around the world and it is expected that more studies will be initiated in regards to aspirin’s effects on cancer treatment and prevention.