Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Aspirin: Scientists believe cancer prevention benefits outweigh harms

Date:
August 5, 2014
Source:
Oxford University Press (OUP)
Summary:
Taking aspirin can significantly reduce the risk of developing – and dying from – the major cancers of the digestive tract, i.e. bowel, stomach and oesophageal cancer, researchers report. For the first time, scientists have reviewed all the available evidence from many studies and clinical trials assessing both the benefits and harms of preventive use of aspirin.

New research from Queen Mary University of London (QMUL) reveals taking aspirin can significantly reduce the risk of developing -- and dying from -- the major cancers of the digestive tract, i.e. bowel, stomach and esophageal cancer.

For the first time, scientists have reviewed all the available evidence from many studies and clinical trials assessing both the benefits and harms of preventive use of aspirin. Conclusions of the study are published in the leading cancer journal Annals of Oncology.

The researchers, led by Professor Jack Cuzick, Head of the Centre for Cancer Prevention at QMUL (London, UK), found taking aspirin for 10 years could cut bowel cancer cases by around 35% and deaths by 40%. Rates of esophageal and stomach cancers were cut by 30% and deaths from these cancers by 35-50%.

To reap the benefits of aspirin, the evidence shows people need to start taking a daily dose of 75-100 mg for at least five years and probably 10 years between the ages of 50 and 65. No benefit was seen whilst taking aspirin for the first three years, and death rates were only reduced after five years.

However, the research also warns taking aspirin long-term increases the risk of bleeding from the digestive tract, e.g. stomach bleeding. Amongst 60-year-old individuals who take daily aspirin for 10 years, the risk of digestive tract bleeds increases from 2.2% to 3.6%, and this could be life-threatening in a very small proportion (less than 5%) of people.

Overall, rates of serious or fatal gastrointestinal bleeding are very low under the age of 70, but increased sharply after that age. Another side effect of aspirin use is peptic ulcer, the risk of which is increased by 30-60%.

The study also uncovers uncertainty over the most appropriate dose of aspirin required to maximize the benefit / harm ratio, with doses varying between 75 mg to 325mg a day in different clinical trials and studies. It is also not clear whether taking aspirin for longer than 10 years will result in greater benefits.

Professor Jack Cuzick commented: "It has long been known that aspirin -- one of the cheapest and most common drugs on the market -- can protect against certain types of cancer. But until our study, where we analysed all the available evidence, it was unclear whether the pros of taking aspirin outweighed the cons.

"Whilst there are some serious side effects that can't be ignored, taking aspirin daily looks to be the most important thing we can do to reduce cancer after stopping smoking and reducing obesity, and will probably be much easier to implement."

"Our study shows that if everyone aged between 50-65 started taking aspirin daily for at least 10 years, there would be a 9% reduction in the number of cancers, strokes and heart attacks overall in men and around 7% in women. The total number of deaths from any cause would also be lower, by about 4% over a 20-year period. The benefits of aspirin use would be most visible in the reduction in deaths due to cancer.

"The risk of bleeding depends on a number of known factors which people need to be aware of before starting regular aspirin and it would be advisable to consult with a doctor before embarking on daily medication."

Further research is needed to define more clearly who will benefit most greatly from taking aspirin and who is most at risk of the bleeding side effects.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Oxford University Press (OUP). Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. J. Cuzick, M. A. Thorat, C. Bosetti, P. H. Brown, J. Burn, N. R. Cook, L. G. Ford, E. J. Jacobs, J. A. Jankowski, C. La Vecchia, M. Law, F. Meyskens, P. M. Rothwell, H. J. Senn, A. Umar. Estimates of benefits and harms of prophylactic use of aspirin in the general population. Annals of Oncology, 2014; DOI: 10.1093/annonc/mdu225

Cite This Page:

Oxford University Press (OUP). "Aspirin: Scientists believe cancer prevention benefits outweigh harms." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 5 August 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/08/140805221119.htm>.
Oxford University Press (OUP). (2014, August 5). Aspirin: Scientists believe cancer prevention benefits outweigh harms. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 20, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/08/140805221119.htm
Oxford University Press (OUP). "Aspirin: Scientists believe cancer prevention benefits outweigh harms." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/08/140805221119.htm (accessed October 20, 2014).

Share This



More Health & Medicine News

Monday, October 20, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Microneedle Patch Promises Painless Pricks

Microneedle Patch Promises Painless Pricks

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Oct. 18, 2014) Researchers at The National University of Singapore have invented a new microneedle patch that could offer a faster and less painful delivery of drugs such as insulin and painkillers. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Nurse Nina Pham Arrives in Maryland

Raw: Nurse Nina Pham Arrives in Maryland

AP (Oct. 17, 2014) The first nurse to be diagnosed with Ebola at a Dallas hospital walked down the stairs of an executive jet into an ambulance at an airport in Frederick, Maryland, on Thursday. Pham will be treated at the National Institutes of Health. (Oct. 16) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Cruise Ship Returns to US Over Ebola Fears

Raw: Cruise Ship Returns to US Over Ebola Fears

AP (Oct. 17, 2014) A Caribbean cruise ship carrying a Dallas health care worker who is being monitored for signs of the Ebola virus is heading back to Texas, US, after being refused permission to dock in Cozumel, Mexico. (Oct. 17) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Spanish Govt: Four Suspected Ebola Cases in Spain Test Negative

Spanish Govt: Four Suspected Ebola Cases in Spain Test Negative

AFP (Oct. 17, 2014) All four suspected Ebola cases admitted to hospitals in Spain on Thursday have tested negative for the deadly virus in a first round of tests, the government said Friday. Duration: 00:55 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins