Taking aspirin every other day ‘cuts cancer risk by more than 40%'
Evidence of benefit from long-term low-dose aspirin intake is now so widespread that it has to be given some credibility. The irony is that patients are regularly now warned off it in favour of paracetamol. The inflamed stomach effects of aspirin seem to occur only in the presence of helicobacter pylori so a course of antibiotics can eliminate that problem
TAKING aspirin every other day cuts the risk of certain cancers by more than 40 per cent, according a study. Harvard researchers have found that even a very low dose of the painkiller drastically reduces the odds of bowel and stomach cancers.
Women who took one 100mg tablet every other day were 43 per cent less likely to get bowel cancer and 36 per cent less at risk of stomach cancer, after a period of 20 years.
Recently a number of studies have shown that a daily dose of aspirin drastically cuts the risk of developing cancer, and of tumours spreading once diagnosed. But until now it was not known whether the pills had similar, preventative effects when taken less frequently.
Although aspirin has been dubbed the wonder drug as it protects against heart attacks, strokes and cancer, it also causes stomach bleeds and ulcers in some patients. Taking a low dose of the drug every other day however would mean such patients would be less likely to succumb to these side effects.
Researchers from Harvard University and Brigham and Women’s hospital in Boston, the US, looked at the records of 39,876 women over 45.
Half were told to take one 100mg aspirin tablet every other day for ten years while the remainder were given a placebo - a dummy drug.
At the end of the study the researchers compared how many women from each group had developed cancer and found no difference.
But when they looked at them again eight years later - 18 years after the study had started - they found the odds of developing bowel or stomach cancer amongst those on aspirin were significantly lower. They think it may take several years for aspirin’s beneficial effects to ‘kick-in.’
Although experts are unsure exactly how it protects against cancer, they think it may stop certain harmful chemicals or enzymes in the body from working. In particular they think it blocks the Cox-2 enzyme - which exists on all our cells and is known to trigger cancer.
But in spite of her findings, lead researcher Professor Nancy Cook said patients should not start taking aspirin every day or every other day.
Addressing the National Cancer Research Institute conference in Liverpool, she said: ‘There are side effects. They are rarely fatal but they do cause the need for hospitalisation. ‘The side effects do depend on the dose which is one reason we were testing taking 100mg every other day.’
She said her future research would try and identify which patients were most at risk of bowel and stomach cancer who would be most likely to benefit.
Around 40,000 Britons develop bowel cancer every year and another 6,000 contract stomach cancer.
Although this research only involved women, Professor Cook said similar effects would be seen in men who took aspirin every other day.
The study only found that aspirin only protected against bowel and stomach cancer, it did not reduce the risk of breast and lung cancer.
But last year Oxford researchers found that taking the pill every day cut the risk of dying of any type of cancer by 37 per cent.
The experts found that not only did the drug prevent cancer, it also reduced the chance of it spreading to other organs once patients were diagnosed.
Jessica Harris, health information manager at Cancer Research UK, said: ‘Research has shown that taking regular low doses of aspirin can reduce the risk of developing and dying from cancer although the effect takes about 5-10 years to show.
‘But aspirin has a range of serious side-effects, including internal bleeding, so other than for those at very high risk, it’s not clear whether the benefits would outweigh the harms, or what the best dose might be.’
DENMARK'S government will scrap a fat tax it introduced a little over a year ago in a world first. "The fat tax and the extension of the chocolate tax -- the so-called sugar tax -- has been criticised for increasing prices for consumers, increasing companies' administrative costs and putting Danish jobs at risk," the Danish tax ministry said in a statement on Saturday.
"At the same time it is believed that the fat tax has, to a lesser extent, contributed to Danes travelling across the border to make purchases.
"Against this background, the government and the (far-left) Red Green Party have agreed to abolish the fat tax and cancel the planned sugar tax."
Denmark's centre-left minority government is made up of the Social Democrats, Social Liberals and Socialist People's Party, and requires support from other parties to pass legislation in parliament. The government and the Red Greens reached the agreement as part of their negotiations on the 2013 budget bill.
The previous right-wing government introduced the fat tax in October 2011 to limit the population's intake of fatty foods.
According to the Danish National Health and Medicines Authority, 47 per cent of Danes are overweight and 13 per cent are obese.
"Now we need to try to do something else to address public health," Food Minister Mette Gjerskov said, news agency Ritzau reported.
The fat tax has been levied on all products containing saturated fats -- from butter and milk to pizzas, oils, meats and pre-cooked foods -- in a costing system that Denmark's Confederation of Industries has described as a bureaucratic nightmare for producers and outlets.
The measure added 16 kroner ($2.65) per kilo of saturated fats in a product.