Weekly Health Update:
Low Dose Aspirin Reduces Colorectal Cancer Risk
By, Robert A. Wascher, MD, FACS
The information in this column is intended for informational purposes only, and does not constitute medical advice or recommendations by the author. Please consult with your physician before making any lifestyle or medication changes, or if you have any other concerns regarding your health.
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“A critical weekly review of important new research findings for health-conscious readers”
LOW DOSE ASPIRIN REDUCES COLORECTAL CANCER RISK
Colorectal cancer is the third most common cause of cancer-associated death in the United States (and in many other countries around the world). Diet, obesity, and other lifestyle factors are known to play a significant role in colorectal cancer risk, as I discuss in detail in my new book, A Cancer Prevention Guide for the Human Race.
Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), including aspirin, have been shown to reduce the risk of colorectal cancer. Unfortunately, the majority of non-aspirin NSAIDs have been shown to increase the risk of cardiovascular disease, and so these drugs are seldom used, today, for colorectal cancer prevention. (In most cases, their use for this purpose has become largely restricted to patients with inherited gene mutations that place them at extremely high risk for developing colorectal cancer.)
While high daily doses of aspirin have been shown to reduce the risk of colorectal cancer, this form of cancer prevention therapy also has significant risks, including serious GI tract bleeding and kidney damage. Until very recently, there has been very little high quality research data available regarding the effectiveness of low-dose aspirin therapy on colorectal cancer risk. Now, a newly published study in the prestigious journal, The Lancet, indicates that low-dose aspirin therapy can, indeed, significantly reduce the risk of colorectal cancer.
This report actually combines the long-term results from four large prospective, randomized, placebo-controlled clinical research studies (the Swedish Aspirin Low Dose Trial, UK-TIA Aspirin Trial, the Thrombosis Prevention Trial, and the British Doctors Aspirin Trial). Altogether, a whopping 14,033 patient volunteers were studied in these research trials, and the average duration of patient follow-up was a very impressive 18.3 years.
Overall, the use of 75 milligrams (mg) of aspirin per day, for 5 years or longer, dramatically reduced the risk of cancer in the upper colon, by about 70 percent. While the incidence of lower colon cancer was not significantly reduced by low-dose aspirin therapy, the risk of rectal cancer was reduced by a very significant 42 percent. Moreover, increased daily doses of aspirin (above 75 mg) did not result in any further decrease in the risk of colon cancer or rectal cancer.
The findings of this very large clinical research study represent a very significant breakthrough in our understanding of the role of aspirin in colorectal cancer prevention and, especially, in the optimization of daily aspirin dosing to maximize this drug’s cancer prevention benefit while simultaneously reducing the known (and sometimes serious) adverse side effects of chronic aspirin therapy.
As always, I must remind readers that they should first consult with their doctor prior to beginning aspirin therapy, as some health conditions may be associated with an increased risk of severe side effects when taking aspirin.
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Disclaimer: As always, my advice to readers is to seek the advice of your physicianbeforemaking any significant changes in medications, diet, or level of physical activity
Dr. Wascher is an oncologic surgeon, professor of surgery, cancer researcher, oncology consultant, and a widely published author
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Robert A. Wascher, MD, FACS
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Dr. Wascher's Archives:
11-14-2020: Low Dose Aspirin Reduces Colorectal Cancer Risk
11-7-2010: Coffee, Tea, Caffeine and Brain Cancer Risk
10-14-2010: Gum Disease (Gingivitis) and Breast Cancer Risk
10-3-2010: Mammograms Between 40 and 49 Years of Age
9-19-2010: Fruits and Vegetables Improve Memory
9-12-2010: Low-Carb Diet and Risk of Death
8-1-2010: Physician Error
7-25-2010: Obesity and Cancer Risk
6-27-2010: Soy, Curcumin & Prostate Cancer Risk
5-30-2010: Medical Research Studies & “Spin”
5-9-2010: Soy Foods & Stomach Cancer Risk
4-18-2010: Coffee Improves HDL Cholesterol Levels
3-28-2010: Aspirin & Breast Cancer Survival
3-21-2010: Obesity, Alcohol & Liver Disease
3-14-2010: Nuts, Diet & Obesity
2-28-2010: Soy Isoflavones & Recurrent Prostate Cancer
2-14-2010: Pancreatic Cancer Risk, Sodas & Juice
1-31-2010: Concord Grape Juice Improves Memory
1-24-2010: Mozart, Music, Babies & Health
1-17-2010: Breast Cancer, Physical Therapy & Lymphedema
1-3-2010: Ginkgo Biloba, Memory & Cognitive Health
12-20-2009: CT Scans & Cancer Risk
11-29-2009: Exercise & Prostate Cancer Risk
11-22-2009: Genistein (Soy Isoflavone) & Prostate Cancer
11-15-2009: Breast Cancer Treatment & Chronic Pain
1-8-2009: Vitamin D & Breast Cancer Risk
11-1-2009: Exercise & Prostate Cancer Risk
10-25-2009: HPV Virus & Risk of Breast Cancer
10-11-2009: Vitamin D & Falls in the Elderly
10-4-2009: Surgery, NSQIP, Complications & Death
9-27-2009 Stress, Heart Disease, Exercise & Death
9-20-2009: Vitamin D & Colorectal Cancer Survival
9-13-2009: H1N1 Swine Flu Update
9-7-2009: Green Tea, Aging & Lifespan
8-30-2009: Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), Diet & Fiber
8-23-2009: Update on Prostate Cancer and Cryotherapy
8-2-2009: Honesty, Dishonesty & Brain Function
7-26-2009: Coronary Artery CT Scans & Cancer Risk
7-12-2009: Breast Cancer & Metformin (Glucophage)
7-5-2009: Prostate Cancer & Green Tea
6-21-2009: Red Yeast Rice, Statins & Cholesterol
6-7-2009: Diet, Soy & Breast Cancer Risk
5-31-2009: Diet and Prostate Cancer Risk
5-24-2009: Diabetes, Glucose Control & Death
5-10-2009: Hemorrhoids & Surgery
4-26-2009: Are We Really Losing the War on Cancer?
4-19-2009: Exercise in Middle Age & Risk of Death
4-12-2009: Can Chronic Stress Harm Your Heart?
3-15-2009: Depression, Stress, Anger & Heart Disease
10-26-2008: Smoking & Quality of Life
10-19-2008: Agent Orange & Prostate Cancer
10-12-2008: Pomegranate Juice & Prostate Cancer
9-21-2008: Does Tylenol® (Acetaminophen) Cause Asthma?
4-27-2008: Stents vs. Bypass Surgery for Coronary Artery Disease; The “DASH” Hypertension Diet & Cardiovascular Disease Prevention; Testosterone Therapy for Women with Decreased Sexual Desire & Function
4-6-2008: Human Papilloma Virus (HPV), Pap Smear Results & Cervical Cancer; Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) Infection & Oral Cancer; Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) & the Risk of Gastroesophageal Reflux Disorder (GERD)
12-16-2007: Honey vs. Dextromethorphan vs. No Treatment for Kids with Night-Time Cough, Acupuncture & Hot Flashes in Women with Breast Cancer, Physical Activity & the Risk of Death, Mediterranean Diet & Mortality