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Can Aspirin Use Prevent Colorectal Cancer? Scientists Debate Today

Update Date: Oct 01, 2012 05:53 AM EDT

A growing body of evidence and research is beginning to suggest that Aspirin, the over-the-counter drug used as a pain reliever and to ward off heart complications, has now been recruited to be a potential preventative against colorectal cancer.

The European Society for Medical Oncology (ESMO) 2012 congressional meeting will host a debate where two researchers will verbally duke it out in front of an audience of experts.

Prof Robert Benamouzig from the Department of Gastroenterology, Avicenne Hospital, Bobigny, France will argue in favor of the question, "Is aspirin (NSAID) ready for chemoprevention of colorectal adenoma/cancer?"

"The efficacy of aspirin in preventing colorectal cancer has been made obvious by more than twenty years of research," said Prof Benamouzig. "In 2010, researchers published the 20-year follow-up of five pooled randomized trials that assessed the effect of aspirin on colorectal cancer incidence and mortality. The study of more than 14,000 patients found that daily aspirin at any dose reduced risk of colorectal cancer by 24% and associated deaths by 35% after a delay of about 8 to 10 years."

Arguing on the side of 'No' is Prof Nadir Arber, Director of the Integrated Cancer Prevention at the Tel Aviv Sourasky Medical Center in Israel.

He says that though aspirin can be a promising secondary prevention tool, "[its] role in primary prevention is still not proven---"This means that the majority of the population does not need, and is not going to benefit from aspirin use." However, he adds that certain high-risk populations can only benefit with aspirin use.

The debate on aspirin is just one of 6 other presentations that will take place at the ESMO 2012 Congress on today Monday, 1 October.

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