Taking aspirin three times a week or more may give cancer sufferers a better shot at surviving the disease, a new study suggests.
A National Institutes of Health (NIH) study that followed over 140,000 Americans found that those who stuck to an aspirin regimen were at lower risks of developing prostate, colorectal, lung or ovarian cancers.
However, the benefits seem to only apply to people who are in the normal weight range. Taking aspirin had no effects for underweight or overweight people.
Experts say that the fact that so many people were included in the analysis is promising – but caution that other factors may contribute, such as the likelihood that the same type of people who take aspirin on a regular basis are healthier overall.
People who take aspirin three times a week or more may have better odds of surviving cancer because of the drug’s anti-inflammatory effects, a new study suggests (file)
An estimated 1.8 million Americans will be diagnosed with cancer by the end of 2019. Some 600,000 will die of the disease.
Treatments have drastically improved in recent decades, but the most cutting edge and effective ones are still very expensive, and often only available through clinical trials.
Health officials encourage preventive measures like healthy lifestyles, void of smoking and other substance use, good diets and exercise to help reduce cancer risks.
Some evidence suggests that throwing some aspirin into that prescription might help, too.
Invented in 1899, aspirin, or acetylsalicylic acid is a remarkable drug.
Aspirin is most often used to treat pain and lower fevers.
The secret to its power is in aspirin’s anti-inflammatory properties.
Reducing inflammation makes it a useful drug for treating rheumatic fever, Kawasaki disease and heart problems like pericarditis.
Studies have shown that giving someone aspirin just after a heart attack can actually reduce their risks of death.
Anti-inflammatory properties, doctors believe, may be what makes aspirin useful in cancer prevention and mortality risk reduction, too.
Numerous studies have linked inflammation and cancer.
In particular, much of the dramatic recent rise in colorectal cancers is thought to be attributable to the obesity epidemic and the associated inflammation.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, the NIH study authors found that aspirin had the most dramatic effect on their participants’ risks for colorectal cancer.
Aspirin offered the second greatest advantages for reducing the risk of death from gastric cancers.
Similar reductions in death risks from prostate and ‘any cancers’ among aspirin-takers.
Unfortunately, aspirin offered no advantage to people under a BMI of 20 – making them underweight – or over a BMI of 29.9, meaning obese people reaped no advantages either.
It may be that inflammation is misregulated enough in these groups that aspirin is helpless against it.
Though previous research has shown similar results, experts warn this research shows just a link – not a cause.
‘It is almost misleading to emphasize the word “trial” for these results, since aspirin use was not part of the trial of screening,’ said Dr Stephen Evans of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.
‘It is not a randomized trial of aspirin use in the elderly, and although the authors seem to regard its results as providing evidence against the findings of the ASPREE study which found increased bleeding in those randomly allocated to aspirin which led to an overall increase in mortality, this is essentially an observational study which cannot simply overturn those findings.’