Can daily aspirin help ward off cancer?

NEW YORK Fri Aug 10, 2012 4:51pm EDT

An aerial view shows an administration building of the German Bayer AG chemical company in Leverkusen wrapped as giant ''Aspirin'' box.

An aerial view shows an administration building of the German Bayer AG chemical company in Leverkusen wrapped as giant ''Aspirin'' box.

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NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - A new study bolsters the case that daily aspirin may help protect against cancer, although the effect seems weaker than previously thought.

And the final chapter on the popular but controversial drug has yet to be written, experts say, because like earlier research the new work has considerable limitations.

"News about the cancer potential of aspirin use has been really encouraging lately," said Dr. Michael Thun of the American Cancer Society, who worked on the study. "Things are moving forward, but it is still a work in progress."

Medical guidelines in the U.S. already urge people to take low doses of aspirin to prevent heart disease if the predicted benefits outweigh the risk of side effects, or if they have already suffered a heart attack.

Whether those recommendations should be broadened to include cancer prevention is still up in the air, however.

Earlier this year, an analysis of previous clinical trials showed that people on aspirin were less likely to die of cancer than those not on the medication, with a 37-percent drop in cancer deaths observed from five years onwards.

The new report, published Friday in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, is based on real-life observations instead of experiments. It includes a decade's worth of data from more than 100,000 men and women in the U.S., most over 60 and all of them non-smokers.

People who said they took daily aspirin - whether 'baby' or adult strength - had a 16-percent lower risk of dying from cancer than non-users overall, Thun and his colleagues found.

For men, the difference came out to 103 fewer cancer deaths a year per 100,000 people; for women, the number was 42.

The effect was strongest for gastrointestinal cancers, such as colon cancer and stomach cancer. But it didn't seem to matter whether people had been on aspirin for more or less than five years.

Because the study wasn't a clinical trial, it's hard to know if the findings can be chalked up to aspirin or if something else is at play.

Still, Thun said the results would favor broadening the aspirin guidelines to include cancer prevention based on an individual risk-benefit assessment. But he added that it will take scientists a few years to mull over all of the existing evidence.


Other researchers are more skeptical. Dr. Kausik Ray of St. George's University of London, who has studied aspirin, said the new study did not look at overall death rates or side effects such as serious stomach bleeds.

"This is not a drug without side effects, so what you have to look at is net benefit," he told Reuters Health.

Earlier this year, Ray's team published an analysis of previous aspirin trials showing the medication did not prevent deaths from heart disease or cancer, and was likely to cause more harm than good.

One of the problems with the new study as well as with previous aspirin trials, he said, is something called detection bias. People who develop stomach bleeding from aspirin are likely to get their bowels checked out by a doctor. As a result, doctors may find and remove tumors or precancerous polyps, which could prolong the patient's life - the idea behind colon cancer screening.

So far, most aspirin trials have been designed to test the drug's effect on heart disease. Ray called for trials that specifically check people for new cancers at given intervals to weed out the selection bias marring the previous research.

"I don't think we have enough hard evidence suggesting everybody should be taking" aspirin, Ray said.

When it comes to cancer, the government-backed U.S. Preventive Services Task Force agrees. It discourages the use of aspirin to stave off colorectal cancer in people at average risk for the disease.

SOURCE: Journal of the National Cancer Institute, August 10, 2012.

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Comments (2)
umojaresearch wrote:
Aspirin can no more ward off Cancer than it can reduce heart attacks. The idea of “Health In A Bottle” is the theme of Modern Medicine. Science has proven the harm of all drugs to the human body, including aspirin, over a hundred years ago and even Modern Science proved it causes internal bleeding.

It’s a shame, after over a Century of actual cure for Cancer, which usually has nothing to do with drugs or Chemo, modern medicine is still looking for health in a bottle.

Cancer was cured in the U.S. prior to 1913 and all the doctors and holistic practitioners, who actually cured “Cancer” were victimized by the American Medical Association (AMA), the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) and the actual cures are suppressed because the remedies cost pennies on the dollar. The Drug Companies, or the Medical Industry, who seek profits over cures for health, cannot patent those remedies or cures.


1. Politics in Healing: The Suppression and Manipulation of American Medicine by Daniel Haley
2. The Persecution and trial of Gaston Naessens: The True Story of The Efforts to Suppress an Alternative Treatment for Cancer, AIDS and Other Immunologically Based Diseases, by Christopher Bird.
4. DVD, VACCINES, What CDC Documents and Science Reveal, by Dr. Sherri J. Tenpenny
5. “Full Disclosure”, by Dr. Gary L Glum (AIDS Evidence of Dr. John Seale
6. Nutrition Against Disease, Roger J. Williams
7. Racketeering in Medicine, The Suppression of Alternatives, James P. Carter, M.D., Dr.P.H
8. DVD, Cancer, The Forbidden Cures, Massimo Mazzucco
9. DVD, Dying To Have Known, The Evidence Behind Natural Healing, Steve Kroschel
10. Murder By Injection: The Story of The Medical Conspiracy Against America, by Eustace Mullins
12. The Gerson Therapy: The Proven Nutritional Program for Cancer and Other Illnesses, by Charlotte Gerson and Morton Walker
13. A Cancer Therapy: Results of Fifty Cases and The Cure of Advanced Cancer by Diet Therapy, by Dr. Max Gerson
14. The Budwig Cancer & Coronary Heart Disease Prevention Diet: The Revolutionary Diet from Dr. Johanna Budwig, the Woman Who Discovered Omega-3s, by Dr. Johanna Budwig
15. Cancer: The Problem and The Solution, by Dr. Johanna Budwig
16. Royal R. Rife: Humanitarian, Betrayed and Persecuted, by Gerald F. Foye
17. The Cancer Cure That Worked: 50 Years of Suppression, by Barry Lynes
18. Suppressed Medical Science, by Jack Phillips
19. You Don’t Have To Die! by Harry M. Hoxsey
20. The China Study: The Most Comprehensive Study of Nutrition Ever Conducted And The Startling Implications for Diet, Weight Loss And Long-Term Health, by T. Colin Campbell

Aug 10, 2012 7:03pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
LynCe wrote:
It is fair to say that the public is confused by all the contradictory information about the class of pain relievers known as NSAIDs. Aspirin (every kind) is in that class, as the packaging now prominently discloses. You can’t turn on network TV (particularly during the ‘main’ evening news) without hearing warnings about NSAIDs. This Saturday-release story has the smell of big-pharma-lobby handiwork.

Aug 11, 2012 4:25pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
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