Previous studies have suggested that a daily dose of aspirin for 5 years or longer reduces subsequent risk of colorectal cancer. In that other studies have suggested that aspirin might also reduce risk of other cancers, particularly of the gastrointestinal tract, Peter M. Rothwell, from John Radcliffe Hospital (England), and colleagues assessed data from studies involving at least four years of treatment with daily aspirin versus placebo and a total study duration of five years or more. Identifying eight qualifying studies, involving a total of 25,570 participants, cancer death rates were 21% lower in study participants assigned to aspirin after five years, and the reduction persisted among those followed for 20 years, Of the selected studies, the UK Transient Ischemic Attack study, which assigned patients to aspirin or placebo in a 2:1 ratio, showed a significantly reduced rate of cancer deaths, with an odds ratio for cancer death of 0.45 in the aspirin group. Six of the other trials each showed nonsignificant trends toward lower cancer death rates with aspirin/ Pooling the 674 cancer deaths during the study phases of all eight trials yielded an odds ratio of 0.79 for cancer deaths in the aspirin groups. Writing that: “Daily aspirin reduced deaths due to several common cancers during and after the trials,” the researchers conclude that: “Benefit increased with duration of treatment and was consistent across the different study populations. These findings have implications for guidelines on use of aspirin and for understanding of carcinogenesis and its susceptibility to drug intervention.”
Peter M Rothwell, F Gerald R Fowkes, Jill FF Belch, Hisao Ogawa, Charles P Warlow, Tom W Meade. “Effect of daily aspirin on long-term risk of death due to cancer: analysis of individual patient data from randomised trials.” The Lancet, December 7, 2010.
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