Sunday, April 9, 2017

Long-term aspirin use continues to show benefits

Yin Cao, MPH, ScD
CANCER DIGEST – April 9, 2017 – The evidence supporting the benefits of low-dose daily aspirin to prevent cancer continues to grow. In a study presented at the American Association for Cancer Research meeting taking place in Washington, D.C. this week, a large long-term study of nurses shows that the overall risk of dying was 7 percent lower for women and 11 percent lower for men who had regularly taken aspirin.

The Nurses’ Health System Study began in 1976 and has followed more than 280,000 nurses since that time using repeated questionnaire and follow-up assessments since the study began. 

The study presented April 3, 2017 at the AACR meeting analyzed the data from 86,206 women who enrolled in the study between 1980 and 2012, and 43,977 men who enrolled between 1986 and 2012 in a similar study called the Health Professionals Follow-up study.

The researchers led by Yin Cao, MPH, ScD, at Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School evaluated aspirin use among the participants from when they enrolled and periodically during the study period. What they found was that the women taking aspirin on a regular basis had a 7 percent lower risk of dying and the men had a 11 percent overall risk of dying. 

When they looked at causes of death, they found that the biggest reduction in death was from colorectal cancer. Among the women aspirin users the risk of dying from colorectal cancer was 31 percent lower and among the men it was 30 percent lower. Women aspirin users also had an 11 percent lower risk of dying of breast cancer and the men had a 23 percent lower risk of dying from prostate cancer.

“These findings suggest that aspirin’s established benefits in cardiovascular disease and colorectal cancer reduction may extend to other common causes of death, including several major cancers,” Cao said noting that the study did not look at the adverse effects of regular aspirin use. “We need to conduct additional work to balance these benefits against the harms of use, such as gastrointestinal tract bleeding and hemorrhagic stroke,” she said.

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