The student news site of Guilford College

The Guilfordian

The student news site of Guilford College

The Guilfordian

The student news site of Guilford College

The Guilfordian

Aspirin meta-studies show reduced risks of cancer

The three main causes of death in the U.S. are chronic heart disease, cancer, and lower respiratory diseases.

What would you say if you could take one pill a day to prevent and even possibly treat cancer?

A study of 25,000 people in Dec. 2010 showed the first signs that this might become a reality.

“What we found was — in the trials where people were taking aspirin for four, five, six, seven years on average — the risk of dying of cancer was reduced by about 25 percent,” said Dr. Peter Rothwell of the University of Oxford to Voice of America News.

Now a new study has come out, causing experts to believe that it will only take three to five years for aspirin to have beneficial health effects. This is based on 51 trials with over 77,000 patients. The study was originally done to test if aspirin was helpful in heart disease, but Rothwell’s team examined how many people developed and died from cancer and found a pattern.

“I think that this is fairly reliable because the Lancet is a very good journal,” said Michael Bruno, visiting assistant professor of chemistry. “The articles that get published in this journal are usually high quality.”

According to the study, taking a low dose of 75-300mg of aspirin has shown to lower the cases of cancer by approximately 25 percent after three years of treatment. In the study, there were only nine cases of cancer per 1,000 for people taking aspirin, compared to 12 per 1,000 for those in the placebo group.

The study also shows that aspirin could reduce the risk of a cancer death by 15 percent within five years or sooner if the dose was higher than 300mg. If patients stayed on aspirin for longer than five years, their cancer death risk went down even further — by 37 percent after five years, according to BBC News.

“The problem with this study is that it is a meta-study,” said Bruno. “The data that they collected was not from studies looking at cancer. The data was from studies looking at aspirin’s effect on heart disease.”

There have also been risks that have come along in these trials. While aspirin has been cutting the risk of cancer, it has been increasing the risk of major bleeding. After the first few years of taking aspirin, the risk of bleeding goes down significantly.

Rothwell said that the annual risk of major internal bleeding was about one in 1,000, and aspirin roughly doubled that risk, according to BBC News. He added that the risk of major bleeding was “very low” for middle-aged patients but increased dramatically for those over 75.

Exercise, healthy diets and not smoking are still the main things recognized as helping prevent cancer. The emerging studies, however, suggest that aspirin could have a lot of medical potential.

If you are interested in exploring this treatment, experts recommend that you first talk to your general practitioner and learn the risks. It is possible that taking this pill once a day could save your life.

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