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Aspirin Taken Every Other Day can Lower a Woman’s Risk of Colorectal Cancer

Update Date: Jul 16, 2013 09:32 AM EDT

In the previous years, researchers studying the effects of aspirin, which is mostly used to treat pain and inflammation, have tied the drug to several health benefits. One study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine found that aspirin could potentially be used as a cheaper version of a blood thinner. Other studies have tied aspirin to lowering breast cancer risk and melanoma risk. In one of the latest studies to date, researchers found that aspirin could be tied to lowering women's risk of colon cancer. 

The study, led by associate biostatistician at Brigham and Women's Hospital and professor at Harvard Medical School, Nancy R. Cook, reviewed data from the Women's Health Study, a long-term trial that lasted 18 years. In this study, there were around 40,000 women participants who were at least 45-years-old and 33,682 of them were a part of the follow-up. In the study, the participants were randomly given either 100 milligrams of aspirin or a placebo to take every other day. The researchers decided to avoid daily intake in order to reduce possible side effects. Some of the participants took vitamin E on the non-aspirin days while others continued taking the placebo.

The researchers found that within the first decade, there appeared to be no differences between taking aspirin and a placebo. After the 10-year mark however, the researchers found that women who were taking aspirin had a 42 percent reduction in colorectal cancer. The reduction fell to 20 percent when the researchers calculated the rate for the entire length of the study. The researchers reported that age and other variables, such as socioeconomic status, did not affect the results. Despite this find, the researchers did note that women who were on aspirin were more likely to develop gastrointestinal bleeding and peptic ulcers based on self reports. The rates between the groups were 8.3 percent verses 7.3 percent for gastrointestinal bleeding and 7.3 percent versus 6.2 percent for peptic ulcers. Vitamin E did not impact colon cancer risk.

According to the National Cancer Institute, 102,480 new cases of colon cancer are expected this year with 50,830 fatalities from colon and rectal cancer.

The study was published in the Annals of Internal Medicine

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