An Aspirin a Day
mp3 | wma | wav

Aspirin

For you aspirin advocates – a new study found that an aspirin a day keeps cancer away. Well, it doesn’t quite say that, but it comes pretty close.

The study examined eight clinical trials and found that people who took a daily low dose aspirin for four years reduced their chances of dying from many common cancers by 44%. Another study showed aspirin’s remarkable effects on people with hereditary colorectal cancer. Those who took high doses of aspirin daily for two years lowered their chances of developing the disease by 60%!

Despite these findings, no medical group is making a formal recommendation for people to start taking aspirin daily because none of the large studies were designed specifically to assess aspirin’s effects on cancer. Plus, doctors hesitate to tell presumably healthy people to start taking aspirin regularly as the drug can cause side effects such as gastrointestinal bleeding.

But it’s getting hard to ignore all the evidence pointing to aspirin’s potential to prevent cancer. A 2010 British study showed that taking aspirin for five years lowered a person’s risk of dying from esophageal, stomach, pancreatic, brain, lung and prostate cancers by more than 20%.

Aspirin works by inhibiting the activities of an enzyme called cyclooxygenases which creates an inflammatory environment in the body that can promote tumor growth. A new guideline for aspirin therapy suggests starting a daily regimen at age 50 until age 70, at which time it should be stopped to reduce the risk of internal bleeding. As always, it’s important to consult your doctor before starting such a regimen.

For more information…

Study Shows Aspirin Reduces Colorectal Cancer in Those at High Risk
The National Cancer Institute offers this special report on the UK clinical trial which found that taking high doses of aspirin every day reduces the risk of colorectal cancer. Additional articles regarding aspirin and its role in cancer prevention are available here.

Aspirin Linked to Lower Risk of Deadly Skin Cancer
Article about the study of nearly 60,000 post-menopausal women which found that aspirin substantially reduces the risk of melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer.

Will an Aspirin a Day Keep Cancer Away?
Wonderful Science magazine summary by Jocelyn Kaiser of the latest studies on the effects of aspirin on cancer.

Aspirin: The Remarkable Story of a Wonder Drug
Interesting book discussing the historical use of aspirin from ancient to modern times. Google Books has several chapters available to read for free at this link.