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Daily low-dose aspirin protects from bowel cancer

Just 75mg aspirin daily cuts colorectal cancer risk by about a quarter

Louise Prime

Thursday, 16 September 2010

Taking a regular 75mg daily dose of aspirin is enough to improve a person’s risk of developing and surviving colorectal cancer, shows research published online this week in Gut. Even after a year, and in people at low risk, aspirin offered protection from bowel cancer.

Researchers set out to find the dose and duration of aspirin needed to offer protection from colorectal cancer. They asked 2279 people with bowel cancer and 2907 healthy controls matched for age, sex, and location, to complete questionnaires about their usual diet and lifestyle.

People in both case and control groups were also asked about their intake of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) (more than four 75mg tablets a month of aspirin, other NSAIDs, or a combination).

The study authors followed participants for five years and recorded their risk of developing and dying from bowel cancer.

They found that regularly taking any NSAID offered a protective effect against developing bowel cancer, and that the level of protection increased with duration of taking an NSAID – for all categories of lifestyle choice, diet, age, body mass and level of deprivation.

Taking 75mg aspirin daily for one year was associated with a 22% reduced risk of developing bowel cancer. After five years of low-dose daily aspirin, the reduction in risk was 30%.

However, taking any NSAID offered no demonstrable benefit in terms of either colorectal cancer survival or all-cause survival.

The researchers say that their research is important because it has shown that long-term high doses of aspirin are unnecessary to gain protection from colorectal cancer.
They conclude: “This is the first study to demonstrate a protective effect against colorectal cancer (CRC) associated with the lowest dose of aspirin (75 mg per day) after only 5 years’ use in the general population. NSAID use prior to CRC diagnosis does not influence survival from the disease.”

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