Daily Aspirin Could Treat Cancer

Fresh evidence has suggested that taking small doses of aspirin every day can prevent and possibly even treat cancer.

Three new studies have been published in medical journal The Lancet and add to mounting evidence of the drug’s anti-cancer effects.

Experts are warning though that there is still not enough proof to recommend it to prevent cancer cases and deaths and warn that the drug can cause dangerous side effects like stomach bleeds.

Previous studies carried out by Oxford Universities Prof Peter Rothwell and colleagues had suggested people needed to be taking the drug for about 10 years to get any protection.

However the same experts now think the protective effects could occur sooner; within three to five years.

The trials were originally designed to compare aspirin with no treatment for the prevention of heart disease. But when Prof Rothwell's team examined how many of the participants developed and died from cancer, they found this was also related to aspirin use.

Taking low daily doses, between 75-300mg, appeared to cut the number of cancer cases by about a quarter after only three years. There were nine cancer cases per 1,000 each year in the aspirin-taking group, compared with 12 per 1,000 for those taking dummy pills.

Aspirin is already widely used by many people to treat heart conditions, but this has potential dangerous side effects as it can cause major stomach bleeds.

Prof Rothwell says for most fit and healthy people, the most important things they can do to reduce their lifetime cancer risk is to give up smoking, take exercise and have a healthy diet.

After that aspirin does seem to reduce the risk further - only by a small amount if there is no risk factor, but if there is a family history for something like colorectal cancer, it tips the balance in favour of aspirin, he said.


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