A daily dose of aspirin has been found to ward off cancer risk as well as several other ailments.
Two studies have consistently shown that the regular usage of aspirin causes a drop in the risk of contracting cancer. Among the types of cancer, the rates of which were slashed, were GIT cancer and colorectal cancer.
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The findings were published online in the journal JAMA Oncology. Thus it is clear that by supplementing with aspirin, the strength of cancer prevention methods such as colonoscopy and other screening techniques could be boosted.
While those who also have heart disease can definitely benefit by taking a minimal dosage of aspirin with regularity for the prevention of colorectal cancer as well, the sole purpose of taking aspirin for overall cancer prevention has not been approved of just yet.
"We now can recommend that many individuals consider taking aspirin to reduce their risk of colorectal cancer - particularly those with other reasons for regular use, such as heart disease prevention - but we are not at a point where we can make a general recommendation for overall cancer prevention," says Andrew Chan, MD, MPH, chief of the Clinical and Translational Epidemiology Unit in the Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) Division of Gastroenterology, the senior and corresponding author of the report.
"Our findings imply that aspirin use would be expected to prevent a significant number of colorectal cancers above and beyond those that would be prevented by screening and may have even greater benefit in settings in which the resources to devote to cancer screening are lacking."
The scope of the study is limited for now although with the passage of time, the benefits of cancer prevention through aspirin intake could expand indefinitely. Although the studies do show that colorectal cancer is prevented considerably via aspirin intake, the prevention of all cancers is a moot point.
Data from the past three decades involving 136,000 participants was studied. Those individuals who took part in the regular usage of aspirin had a 3% lower risk of any type of cancer.
This dosage was just a standard or low quantity of the drug at least two times per weekly basis. Those who did not take any aspirin showed no such reduced risk whatsoever.
As for the risk of colorectal cancer it was reduced by 19% by aspirin users. The risk for gastrointestinal tract cancer was reduced by 15% for those who regularly took aspirin. However, no such reductions were noted down in case of breast, prostate and lung cancers.
This research was carried out on patients who took a 0.5 or 1.5 standard aspirin pill per week or a low dose each day. Up to 30,000 GIT tumors could be prevented per year by taking the aspirin on a consistent basis.
Also 7500 colorectal tumors could be prevented by following the same strategy. Thus it would be suitable for patients who are at risk of contracting cancer to consult with their GP and start taking aspirin on a regular basis.
However, they should be briefed regarding some of the side effects of taking aspirin day in and day out. It is a wonder drug, yet it is not good for the stomach’s lining.
"At this point, it would be very reasonable for individuals to discuss with their physicians the advisability of taking aspirin to prevent gastrointestinal cancer, particularly if they have risk factors such as a family history," says Chan, an associate professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School.
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"But this should be done with the caveat that patients be well informed about the potential side effects of regular aspirin treatment and continue their regular screening tests. Furthermore, aspirin should not be viewed as a substitute for colonoscopy or other cancer screening tests."