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Daily Aspirin May Reduce Cancer Mortality Rate

Update Date: Aug 11, 2012 03:21 AM EDT

A new observational study has found more evidence to link daily aspirin intake and reduced risk of cancer mortality. The study by American Cancer Society researchers led by Eric J. Jacobs, Ph.D. although claims benefits of aspirin use in reducing mortality from cancer, it also questions the size of the potential benefit. 

The study has found approximately 37 percent mortality rate reduction among those who used aspirin for five years or more. 

However, the time period for which aspirin needs to be consumed to lower cancer mortality is still unclear.

For the current study, which is observational in nature, information from 100,139 predominantly elderly participants on aspirin dose was analyzed. 

At the start of the study, the participants did not have cancer, and when they were followed up after 11 years it was found that the participants had an estimated 16% lower overall risk of cancer mortality. This was applicable for both, those on aspirin daily for at least five years and those who reported shorter term use. 

The analysis showed about 40 percent lower mortality of the gastrointestinal tract (such as esophageal, stomach, and colorectal cancer) and about 12 percent lower mortality from cancers outside the gastrointestinal tract. 

When the results of the current study were compared to the results of another pooled analysis of randomized trials, the researchers found that the risk reduction in the current study was much smaller.

According to the authors it could be because the current study is observational and not randomized, and thus there are chances of underestimation or overestimation of potential effects on cancer mortality.  

"Expert committees that develop clinical guidelines will consider the totality of evidence about aspirin's risks and benefits when guidelines for aspirin use are next updated," said Jacobs in the press release. "Although recent evidence about aspirin use and cancer is encouraging, it is still premature to recommend people start taking aspirin specifically to prevent cancer. 

Even low-dose aspirin can substantially increase the risk of serious gastrointestinal bleeding. Decisions about aspirin use should be made by balancing the risks against the benefits in the context of each individual's medical history. Any decision about daily aspirin use should be made only in consultation with a health care professional."

The study appears online in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

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