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Aspirin significantly cuts cancer risk


December 8, 2011 - Melbourne

A daily dose of aspirin can sharply reduce the risk of death from a wide range of cancers, a new study has suggested.

Previous work by the same team of scientists revealed that the century-old remedy for aches and pains, long a staple of family pharmacies, can help defend against Colon cancer.

The new study has for the first time revealed that aspirin also helps protecting against prostate, lung, brain, and throat cancers, among others.

"These findings provide the first proof in man that aspirin reduces deaths due to several common cancers," the Herald Sun quoted Peter Rothwell, a professor at the University of Oxford and lead author of the study as saying.

Professor Rothwell and colleagues looked into eight previous clinical trials comprising over 25,500 patients. In each, some subjects took aspirin and others look-alike placebos.

During the trials, which lasted for four to eight years, doses of aspirin as low as 75 milligrams, cut cancer deaths overall by 21 per cent.

Risk was particularly diminished after five years of treatment with the drug, by 30 to 40 per cent depending on the type of cancer.

The 20-year risk dropped on an average by a fifth: 10 per cent for Prostate cancer, 30 per cent for Lung Cancer, 40 per cent for Colon cancer, and 60 per cent for oesophageal cancer.

For cancer of the lung and throat, the protective effect was restricted to adenocarcinomas, the type typically observed in non-smokers.

"Perhaps the most important finding for the longer term is the proof of principle that cancers can be prevented by simple compounds like aspirin, and that 'chemo-prevention' is therefore a realistic goal," Professor Rothwell said.

Another researcher of Cancer Research UK, Ed Yong, asserted that even small doses of aspirin can reduce cancer risk if taken for five years.

"These promising results build on a large body of evidence suggesting that aspirin could reduce the risk of developing or dying from many different types of cancer," Dr Yong said.

"This tells us that even small doses reduce the risk of dying from cancer provided it is taken for at least five years."

"We encourage anyone interested in taking aspirin on a regular basis to talk to their doctor first," Dr Yong added.

The study has been published in the British medical journal The Lancet.

ANI

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