Taking a small dose of aspirin every day has been recommended by many medical experts as a good way to lower the risk of heart attack and stroke in adults. More recent research has shown that taking low dose daily aspirin lowers the risk of certain cancers, particularly those affecting the colon and rectum, stomach, esophagus, and prostate, among others, including breast cancer.
Now, just published 20 April in the international science journal PLOSone, researchers from Cardiff University (UK), have concluded that people who already have certain cancers show an increased rate of survival—of up to 20%—if they take low dose aspirin along with their other cancer treatment. It is important to emphasize that the people studied were not being treated with only aspirin as a treatment for cancer.
The research team was headed by Dr. Peter Elwood, a leader in the fight against various diseases. He published the first study, in the British Medical Journal, in 1974, reporting that daily aspirin reduces the risk of heart attack and stroke. Dr. Elwood also lead a 35-year study showing that daily exercise decreased the risk of dementia.
Increases survival by 15-20%
Regarding his current research, Dr. Elwood concludes:
“Our review suggests that low-dose aspirin taken by patients with bowel, breast or prostate cancer, in addition to other treatments, is associated with a reduction in deaths of about 15-20%, together with a reduction in the spread of the cancer.”
How can this common mediciation possibly have this effect? The best evidence indicates that aspirin appears to prevent and increase survival in certain cancers because it is an anti-inflammatory medication. Inflammation in the body is considered a risk factor for cancer. Certain factors that increase inflammation in the body are smoking, sedentary behavior, obesity, and eating foods with trans fats.
Dose of aspirin
The dose of aspirin used in most of these cancer prevention and treatment studies is 80 to 100 mg. per day, which is much less than a standard pill of 325 mg. The main risk of daily aspirin is bleeding from the stomach, but this risk is low. Especially people who have a history of stomach problems or who drink significant alcohol daily—which increases the risk of stomach bleeding—should talk to their doctor before taking it on a daily basis.
You may be interested in looking at previous ProcuraMed blog posts where we discussed new research about how this medicaiton might protect against certain cancers. Now the data is showing that people who already have cancer might benefit from taking aspirin as well. If you know of anyone with cancer, you might pass along this post so they can discuss this with their doctor, and see if aspirin might be helpful.
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