New Research Links Aspirin and NSAIDs to Lower Risk of Colorectal Cancer

According to the findings of a new research study, when low-dose aspirin and non-aspirin non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are used for a long time, they have the effect of tremendously lowering the risk of contracting colorectal cancer (CRC). The results of the study were recently published in the medical journal, Annals of Internal Medicine.

CRC is the 3rd most common cancer in the United States, coming only after lung and breast cancer among women as well as lung and prostate cancer among men. However, in the total number of deaths caused by cancer in the U.S. per year, CRC is second only to lung cancer with approximately 90% of CRC patients being 50 years or older.

Further medical statistics show that up to 40% of Americans aged 50 years or more have benign tumors in their colons, with about 2% of these cases expected to progress to full-blown cancer. Due to its tendency to develop rather slowly, this type of cancer can be successfully prevented using drugs like the low-dose aspirin and NSAIDs tested in the latest research.

People who continuously took between 75 and 150mg of the low-dose aspirin for at least five years were observed to have 27% lowered risk of contracting CRC. This figure goes up to between 30 and 45% for non-aspirin NSAIDs, which targets pain-&-inflammation-causing enzymes. These findings were conducted by a team of researchers from Aarhus University Hospital’s Department of Clinical Epidemiology in Denmark.

10,280 first-time CRC patients composed the study group while the control group had 102,800 volunteers. The research did not include the factoring in of lifestyle aspects like diet, weight and level of exercise.

According to study author Søren Friis, who is a senior scientist and associate professor at Aarhus University Hospital’s Department of Clinical Epidemiology, it is very important that the benefit of these drugs is evaluated both in the general populace and within select study groups of high-risk people with CRC such as those who have had past instances of colorectal adenomas/cancer or obesity, as well as a hereditary disposition to the disease.

Further Studies Needed to Determine the Optimal Use of Aspirin

Dr. Friis further reveals that there are a number of studies that have shown that the level of preventive effect in aspirin when it comes to fighting CRC is biggest among obese people. He also adds that scientists will have to conduct even more research into the benefit/risk profile of the two categories of drugs among various population groups, i.e. their chemopreventive effects needs to be balanced against potential harms like stroke, gastrointestinal bleeding, and for non-aspirin NSAIDs, cardiovascular adverse effects.

Other factors to be examined in further research include age, weight and lifestyle factors, with dynamics such as a prescription registry for the participants’ diet, cancer history and current health condition being introduced. Denmark has such a "prescription registry" that offers medical practitioners direct and secure access to comprehensive details about prescription histories of patients.

This research study is not the first one to associate the use of aspirin with lower risk of cancer. Another study reported earlier this month had found a similar link between regular use of aspirin and reduced risk of certain types of cancers -- particularly colon and womb cancers -- in obese individuals.

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Adnan Kubi

Adnan Kubi

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