20-Year Study: Aspirin Reduces Colon Cancer Incidence and Mortality

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Use of low-dose aspirin was found to reduce long-term incidence of and mortality related to colorectal cancer, according to a study published in the October 21 issue of Lancet. 

Particularly, the benefit was greatest for cancers of the proximal colon, which are not prevented effectively by screening with sigmoidoscopy or colonoscopy. 

The results were based on the analysis of 20-year data from 14,033 Swedish and British patients who participated in randomized trials (Thrombosis Prevention Trial, British Doctors Aspirin Trial, Swedish Aspirin Low Dose Trial, UK-TIA Aspirin Trial and Dutch TIA Aspirin Trial) that were originally designed to evaluate the effect of low-dose aspirin in preventing vascular disease. 

Patients who used aspirin for an average of 6 years experienced a 24% reduction in the 20-year risk for colon cancer and a 35% reduction in the mortality from colon cancer.  The effect was greatest in the reduction of cancer of the proximal colon (55% reduction) and the related mortality (66% reduction).  There was, however, no reduction in the risk of rectal cancer.  

The results of this study might provide strong argument for clinicians to prescribe aspirin, in addition to screening sigmoidoscopy, for preventing of colon cancer. 

However, readers are advised not to take aspirins without talking to their physicians.  Aspirins are known to cause GI bleeding, especially among the elderly.  

Source: Lancet. Published online October 21, 2010. Abstract. 

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