Tylenol, Advil, Ibuprofen are all common household names. Chances are, you have some stored in your cabinet, first aid kit at home, or even in your bag. Seemingly mundane, aspirin most well-known for reducing pain, fever, and inflammation.
Recently, researchers have found an association between the long-term use of aspirin and the reduction of mortality risk from certain cancers, including: colorectal, lung, breast, and prostate. This is particularly exciting because lung cancer is the most common cancer world-wide, contributing to almost 17% of all new diagnosed cases. Following in suit to lung cancer, breast, prostate, and colorectal cancer trail behind closely for the most commonly diagnosed cancer types, respectively.
The newly published study presented at the 2017 American Association for Cancer Research Annual Meeting analyzed the correlation between use of aspirin to the overall mortality risks from cancer. Scientists observed around 86,000 women and 44,000 men through a 32- year period with a check-in every 2 years to update aspirin usage.
There have been previous studies that have shown the positive results of aspirin usage in reducing the risk of mortality from cancer. However, this study is the first of its kind for examine the potential benefits of a variation of doses for different durations of time when using aspirin.
After 32 years of follow-up, the study released their data confirming that “the benefit of aspirin on cancer mortality appeared evident with the use of at least 0.5 to 1.5 standard aspirin tablets per week.” Consequently, those who took more aspirin, 2 to 7 tablets per week, had an ever more significant reduction in their risk for cancer mortality. However, those who took more than 7 tablets per week saw a reduction in their benefits.
Overall, the mortality risk rates for both men and women who used aspirin to those who did not, were 11 percent and 7 percent, respectively. This showcased a significant decrease in mortality in those who took aspirin.
The lead author of the study, Yin Cao, also stated that, “Evidence suggests that aspirin not only reduces the risk of developing cancer, but may also play a strong role in reducing death from cancer.”
The researchers observed that the reduction of mortality risk could perhaps derive from the anticoagulant and anti-inflammatory properties of aspirin. Preventing clots in the body, the anticoagulant agent in aspirin could prevent cancerous cells that spawn from tumors from sticking and infecting other parts of the body. The anti-inflammatory agent in aspirin is hypothesized to also help reduce tumor growth and prevent cancerous cells from metastasizing.
So the question arises, should people just start taking aspirin for no reason? Well, no. Margie Clapper, deputy scientific officer cautioned that, “What they have done is a nice next-step approach where they are looking at a much larger number of individuals than we have been able to do so before in terms of aspirin use, but we have to keep in mind when we take this to the public, the risk versus the benefit.”
Thus, although aspirin has been shown by this new study to reduce the risk of mortality from cancer, using aspirin daily has also been tied with increasing the likelihood of gastrointestinal bleeding. Therefore, as warned by Clapper, “We have to make sure that individuals understand that chronic use may not be for everyone, that one size does not fit all.”
Source: Naqvi J. Long-term aspirin use associated with reduced risk of dying from cancer, study shows. The Washington Post.