An apple a day may keep the doctor away, but can an aspirin a day keep cancer at bay?! In December 2011, I posted a blog about Dr. Peter Rockwell and colleagues who published a meta-analysis about the beneficial effects of aspirin in decreasing the risks of developing multiple types of cancer. There are a couple of new major medical studies, published this past week in the Lancet and Lancet Oncology, adding to the weight of evidence for the anti-cancer effects of daily aspirin use.
Analyzing a total of 51 randomized trials, Dr. Rothwell and colleagues found more evidence of long-term benefits of aspirin decreasing “non-vascular (read: cancer) deaths” and, analyzing a subset of trial, they found short-term benefits to decreasing cancer risk as well: http://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736%2811%2961720-0
According to another report which analyzed case-control and cohort studies between 1950 and 2011 in relation to results from randomized clinical trials (the gold standard in clinical cancer research), Rothwell and lead author Dr. Algra also found a consistent benefit for daily aspirin use in decreasing the risk of metastasis (cancer spread to distant sites in the body): http://www.thelancet.com/journals/lanonc/article/PIIS1470-2045%2812%2970112-2
What’s the bottom line? As mentioned by the reviewers of the aforementioned articles, there is reasonable scientific rationale as to why aspirin should interfere with or delay the development and progression of cancer. Given the current medical information available, for people in whom aspirin is not contra-indicated (due to allergy, excessive bleeding risk, etc), strong consideration should be given for daily use to decrease the risk of developing cancer and metastasis from cancer. While taking low dose (“baby”) aspirin daily is certainly no guarantee against a cancer diagnosis or death, the benefits currently would appear to outweigh the risks for a large segment of the population.
- Patrick Maguire MD