Aspirin May Reduce Cancer Risk

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Many people take a daily low-dose aspirin to lower the risk of heart disease, and several studies have shown that regular aspirin use reduces the risk for some cancers. Now a long-term analysis has found that its population-wide benefits against cancer may be even greater than previously believed.

Researchers studied aspirin use in 135,965 health care professionals, men and women, tracking their health for as long as 32 years. Over the course of the study, published in JAMA Oncology, there were 27,985 cases of cancer.

Regular aspirin use reduced the risk for all cancers by about 3 percent, though it had no impact on the risk for breast, lung or prostate cancer.

But regular aspirin use reduced the risk for all gastrointestinal cancers by 15 percent, and for cancers of the colon and rectum by 19 percent.

The senior author, Dr. Andrew T. Chan, an associate professor of medicine at Harvard, pointed out that even people who undergo regular colorectal screening can develop cancers, and aspirin could help prevent some of those cancers as well.

“Based on our estimates,” Dr. Chan said, “we think that regular aspirin use could prevent almost 30,000 cases of gastrointestinal cancers a year, which account for almost 25 percent of all cancer deaths. So I think that’s pretty substantial.”