Aspirin linked to lower risk of cancer

Maria Cheng

A new report from British scientists suggests that long-term, low-dose aspirin use may reduce the risk of dying of certain cancers.

But experts have warned the study isn't strong enough to recommend healthy people start taking a pill that can cause bleeding and other problems.

In a new observational analysis published in the medical journal Lancet, Peter Rothwell of the University of Oxford and colleagues looked at eight studies that included more than 25,000 patients and cut the risk of death from certain cancers by 20pc.

Some experts said the analysis adds to evidence of aspirin's potential to cut cancer risk.

But others said it falls short of changing advice to healthy people, and it failed to show the benefits apply equally to women.

The trials mostly compared men who took a daily dose of at least 75 milligrams of aspirin for heart problems to people who took a placebo or another drug. On average, the studies lasted at least four years.

Researchers used national cancer registries to get information on participants after the studies ended, though they weren't sure how many aspirin takers continued using it or how many people in the comparison groups may have started.


The researchers said the projected risk after two decades of dying from cancers like lung and prostate would be 20pc lower in groups who had taken aspirin and 35pc lower for gastrointestinal cancers.

These odds are figured from smaller numbers -- there were 326 lung cancer deaths in all, for example.

Only one-third of people in the analysis were women -- not enough to calculate any estimates for breast cancer.

There appeared to be no benefit to taking more than 75 milligrams daily -- roughly the amount in a European dose of baby aspirin and a bit less than the baby aspirin dose in the US.