Team McCallum

R&D for Lifetime of Life

Aspirin v cancer and death.

Prof Peter M Rothwel and team found that a small aspirin a day cut for middle-aged people cut cancer rates significantly and also cut the overall risk of death by about 10%, according to a study published in the Lancet.

The team looked at 8 studies, each lasting 4 years or longer, involving over 25,000 people in total. They found that aspirin cut the risk of dying of cancer by 21%.

Different types of cancer returned quite different rates of risk reduction, and details of these are contained in the article in the Lancet. However, the greatest benefit was seen in gastrointestinal cancers.

Prof Rothwell explained that the mechanism of protection is thought to be that aspirin helps cells with damaged DNA to die as they should (called apoptosis) rather than replicating as cancer cells do.

The risk of a serious bleed event from aspirin was put at 1 event per thousand years of use, with only 5% of these being fatal, thus resulting in the overall cut in the risk of death. The best profile appears to be starting aspirin at around age 45 to 50 and discontinuing at age 75, when bleed events become more likely.

The benefit appears to build up slowly and only becomes statistically significant after about 5 years of use. The trials appear to show that the benefit increases the longer that aspirin is used, with 20 year trials showing better figures than shorter term ones.

While the study did not include enough women to determine results for breast cancer and ovarian cancer, the overall figures apply to both men and women. They also apply irrespective of smoking status. Benefit increased with age, in keeping with the time at which cancer normally starts to develop.

The team found that 75mg/day was the dose at which these benefits appeared, and that doses higher than this did not confer any additional gains.

The overall cut in death risk is in keeping with previous studies, which have found that aspirin cuts the risk of death from strokes and heart attacks.


December 7, 2010 - Posted by | Aging, Aspirin, Breast cancer, Cancer, CVD - cardiovascular disease, Health, Peter M Rothwell, Stroke, Success

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