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Aspirin Can Reduce Colorectal Cancer Risks In People With Specific Genes

Update Date: Apr 24, 2014 09:11 AM EDT

Besides reducing the risk of heart attacks the humble aspirin can also lower colon cancer risk among people with high levels of specific type of gene, according to a new study. 

The study analyzed data and other materials from two long-term studies that involved nearly 128,000 participants. According to the study, individuals whose colons have high levels of specific gene product called 15-hydroxyprostaglandin dehydrogenase (15-PGDH) RNA, are dramatically benefitted by aspirin. Contrastingly, the analgesic provides no benefit to people whose colons have low levels of 15-PGDH.

"If you looked at the folks from the study who had high 15-PGDH levels and took aspirin, they cut their risk of colon cancer by half," said senior author Sanford Markowitz, MD, PhD, Ingalls Professor of Cancer Genetics at Case Western Reserve School of Medicine, in the press release. "If you looked at the folks from the study that were low for 15-PGDH, they did not benefit at all from taking aspirin. These findings represent a clean Yes-No about who would benefit from aspirin."

"Prevention, early detection and effective treatments are key to conquering cancer," said Katie Couric, founder of the initiative Entertainment Industry Foundation's National Colorectal Cancer Research Alliance (NCCRA) in the press release. Couric lost her 42-year-old husband, Jay Monahan, to colon cancer in 1998 and has been a steadfast advocate for colon cancer prevention efforts in the years since.

"This finding that aspirin can prevent colon cancer in certain individuals is an easy and cost-effective addition to our arsenal in the fight against the second-leading cancer killer. I am proud to see this valuable research advancing patient care for those at risk of colon cancer resulting from NCCRA support."

The findings of the study have been published in the April 23 edition of Science Translational Medicine.

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