I had been hearing about how aspirin can help prevent cancer in drips and drabs over the past week or so.

Yesterday results from several different British studies were released–and the news exploded–and was carried by nearly every media outlet.

Here are a few excerpts from several major newspapers:

 

USA TODAY

Aspirin and cancer

An aspirin a day may significantly reduce the risk of several cancers and stop cancer from spreading, new research shows. Many people already take low-dose aspirin to prevent heart attacks and strokes. But there are risks, including stomach bleeding. The new cancer studies, though, found that bleeding risks fell over time, as cancer prevention benefits rose. Experts stress that no one should take a daily aspirin without advice from a doctor.

NEW YORK TIMES

Studies Link Daily Doses of Aspirin to Reduced Risk of Cancer

By Roni Caryn Rabin

Taking aspirin every day may significantly reduce the risk of many cancers and prevent tumors from spreading, according to two new studies published on Tuesday.

The findings add to a body of evidence suggesting that cheap and widely available aspirin may be a powerful if overlooked weapon in the battle against cancer. But the research also poses difficult questions for doctors and public health officials, as regular doses of aspirin can cause gastrointestinal bleeding and other side effects. Past studies have suggested that the drawbacks of daily use may outweigh the benefits, particularly in healthy patients.

One of the new studies examined patient data from dozens of large, long-term randomized controlled trials involving tens of thousands of men and women. Researchers at the University of Oxford found that after three years of daily aspirin use, the risk of developing cancer was reduced by almost 25 percent when compared with a control group not taking aspirin. After five years, the risk of dying of cancer was reduced by 37 percent among those taking aspirin…

Some cancer doctors commended the new research, saying said that despite the limitations of the analyses, no other long-term clinical trials of aspirin and cancer are likely to be done because of the enormous expense involved and the fact that aspirin is a cheap generic drug.

WALL STREET JOURNAL

Studies Find New Evidence Aspirin May Prevent Cancer

By Ben Stovall

A daily dose of aspirin may have more benefits than reducing heart-disease risk—it may also help prevent cancer, according to studies published Wednesday by the U.K. medical journal The Lancet.

The findings add to growing evidence of aspirin’s possible benefits regarding cancer. Previous studies have shown that daily aspirin reduces the long-term risk of death due to cancer. Less certain, however, are aspirin’s short-term effects, as well as how the balance of risks and benefits of taking the medication changes over time.

In one study, researchers analyzed patient data from 51 randomized trials that were designed to observe aspirin’s ability to prevent vascular events such as heart attacks. The researchers found that the risk of a cancer death in patients taking aspirin was reduced by 15% compared with patients not taking the medication. After three years of daily aspirin use, the risk of cancer was reduced by about 25%, with both men and women benefiting in roughly equal amounts. Risk reduction continued to improve, to 37%, for patients who had been taking aspirin for five years or more.

A second article in The Lancet reported the effect of aspirin on how cancer grows and spreads. It found that aspirin reduced by 35% the overall risk of fatal common solid cancers—including colon, lung, and prostate cancers—in the trial populations, but not the risk of other fatal cancers such as blood cancers…

Apparently, researchers expect aspirin to work against most cancers.  But some cancers are easier quantify than others, so the emphasis was on easy-to-track cancers like colon and prostate.

Hope the data holds-up!  I heard an interview with a media medical expert tonight who expects drug companies to try and develop an aspirin substitute.  More about that tomorrow.

Until then, feel good, keep smiling and–with your doctor’s permission–take a baby aspirin daily!  Pat

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