According to a new study published in Lancet, taking aspirin over a long period of time can cut the risk of dying from a variety of cancers. The protective effect also increases with age.
The study, involving 25,570 patients, was originally designed to evaluate the effect of aspirin to prevent heart attacks. After a follow-up of 20 years, the researchers showed a 21 reduction in deaths due to cancers in patients who had taken aspirin.
Specifically, patients who took aspiring experienced a 60% reduction in esophageal cancer, 35% reduction in gastrointestinal cancers, 40% reduction in colorectal cancer, 30% reduction in lung cancer, and 10% reduction in prostate cancer.
The protective effect of aspirin became apparent after 5 years for esophageal, pancreatic, brain, and lung cancer; after 10 years for stomach and colorectal cancer; and after 15 years for prostate cancer.
While this is an in important finding in cancer research, readers should be aware that aspirin is associated with GI bleeding. Anyone who is interested in taking aspirin on a regular basis should consult their doctor first.
Source: Lancet published online December 2010.
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