More Good News On Aspirin

Aug 2014

As well as confirming the benefit of reducing the risk of heart attacks, a major review of aspirin use reported by British researchers has concluded that low dose aspirin dramatically reduces the risk of developing or dying from a range of cancers, particularly of the gut (Annals of Oncology, August 2014).

“Patients” aged 50-65 need to take 75mgs daily for at least 3 years after which the incidence of new cancers starts to fall and survival benefits begin to appear after 5 years.Importantly, the benefits far outweighed a small increased risk of bleeding episodes from the gut while the increased risk of haemorrhagic (“brain bleed”) strokes is counter-balanced by a reduced risk of ischaemic strokes due to blockage of the blood supply to the brain.

Aspirin lowered the risk of developing colorectal (large bowel) cancer by 35% and the risks of dying from it by 40%.

The death rate for oesophageal (gullet) cancer was reduced by up to 58% and gastric (stomach) cancer by 31%.

A smaller reduction was also seen for lung and prostate cancer.

The researchers concluded that if everyone in the UK aged 50-64 took aspirin for 10 years, nearly 122,000 lives would be saved over a 20 year period though at a cost of nearly 18,000 deaths from strokes.

There was no benefit in increasing the dose above 75-100mgs.

Chris Booth