(HealthDay News) — Taking low-dose aspirin every day may lower the overall risk of cancer by 3%, mostly due to larger reductions seen in risk for colon and gastrointestinal tumors, according to research published online March 3 in JAMA Oncology.
Andrew Chan, MD, MPH, from Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, and colleagues looked at the link between aspirin and cancer among 135,965 women and men who took part in the long-term Nurses’ Health Study and the Health Professionals Follow-up Study. During more than 30 years of follow-up, there were 20,414 cancers among 88,084 women and 7,571 cancers among 47,881 men.
Taking low-dose aspirin 2 times or more per week was associated with a 3% lower risk for cancer overall, mostly due to a 15% lower risk for gastrointestinal cancers and a 19% lower risk for cancers of the colon and rectum. The benefit was only seen after 6 years of taking aspirin almost daily, the researchers found.Aspirin was not associated with a lower risk for other major cancers, such as breast, prostate, or lung cancer.
“There is scientific evidence that aspirin has an effect on certain biological pathways that can result in cancer,” Chan told HealthDay. And it also reduces inflammation and the amount of some cancer-causing proteins. “The evidence has reached the point that it may be useful to consider using aspirin to prevent colon cancer,” Chan said. “But we are still not at a point where the general population should take aspirin for cancer prevention.”
One author disclosed financial ties to Bayer Healthcare, Pfizer, and Pozen.