Recently, a new analysis, led by Dr. Cristina Bosetti who is the head of the Unit of Cancer Epidemiology at the Mario Negri Department of Oncology, Milan, shows the association between the risk of developing cancers of the digestive tract and regular use of aspirin.
More specifically, the researchers noted in the findings, which appear in the journal Annals of Oncology, that taking one or two tablets of aspirin per week lowered the chances of even the deadliest cancers such as pancreatic and liver cancer.
To reach this conclusion, the researchers examined around one hundred and thirteen studies related to cancer in general. Out of the total number, around forty-five of the studies were related to cancer of the bowel and had 156,000 cases.
In addition, the data from the studies also looked at cancers of the esophagus, head and neck, stomach, gallbladder, pancreas, liver, the part of the stomach that connects to the esophagus (gastric cardia), bile ducts (hepato-biliary), and head and neck.
With the exception of head and neck cancers, all others were affected by the weekly intake of aspirin.
The use of aspirin was associated with a thirty-three percent reduced risk of oesophageal cancer, thirty-nine percent reduced risk of the gastric cardia, twenty-seven percent reduced risk of bowel cancer, thirty-eight percent reduced risk of hepatobiliary cancers, thirty-six percent reduced risk of stomach cancer, and twenty-two percent reduced risk of pancreatic cancer.
In addition to these findings, the researchers investigated further to see whether the dosage of aspirin had any effects on the development and risk of bowel cancer.
To do so, they looked at participants taking aspirin at three different doses – low dose which is one hundred milligrams, regular which is three hundred and twenty-five milligrams and a high dose which is five hundred milligrams.
After the examination, the researchers discovered that higher doses of aspirin were linked to a greater reduction in the risk of developing bowel cancer.
Dr. Bosetti explained in the paper “We found that the risk of cancer was reduced with increased dose; an aspirin dose between 75 and 100mg a day was associated with a 10% reduction in a person’s risk of developing cancer compared to people not taking aspirin; a dose of 325mg a day was associated with a 35% reduction, and a dose of 500mg a day was associated with a 50% reduction”
However, he also added that the findings on aspirin and its connection with bowel cancer came from a lower number of studies in comparison with other cancers.
Therefore, further research in the future is required to ensure the safety of using high doses of aspirin for those at high risk of developing bowel cancer.
On the other hand, the researchers also noted positive changes in the risk of developing other cancers of the digestive tract even including fatal cancers such as pancreatic cancer whose risk went down by twenty-five percent.
For cancers including bowel, oesophageal and pancreatic cancers, the research adds to the already present medical literature and further corroborates aspirin’s benefits for the health which include prevention of cancers as well as certain cardiovascular conditions.
Carlo La Vecchia, who is the Professor of Epidemiology at the School of Medicine, University of Milan and the senior author of the paper concludes the paper by stating that even though the study shows positive effects of aspirin, it should not be taken by everyone.
In fact, consultation from a certified clinician or a doctor is fundamental who is also highly likely to prescribe aspirin only when a person is confirmed to be at a high risk of cancer.
Taking aspirin without consultation is not recommended and may even cause side effects including internal bleeding in the body.