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Does Aspirin Prevent Cancer?

Posted on October 19, 2015 by Kelly Wolford
bottle of aspirin

Did you know that taking aspirin could help to prevent colon (or colorectal) cancer?

At least, that is the view of the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, which recently recommended a daily aspirin for cancer prevention.

The task force’s recommendation is particularly important for certain segments of the population. To be sure, according to a recent study published in CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians, cancer has surpassed heart disease as the leading cause of death among the country’s Hispanic population.

While experts continue to explore the reasons why cancer has such a profound impact on the Hispanic community, which makes up about 17 percent of the U.S. population, an article from WebMD News suggests that the lack of insurance for many Hispanic-Americans is one of the primary impediments to getting the high-quality care they need.

While the statistics about cancer-related deaths are extremely disconcerting, the recommendation from the task force suggests that members of the Hispanic community, as well as other Americans, may be able to reduce the risk of cancer with a daily dose of aspirin.

In particular, according to a report from Fox News, aspirin may be a significant key in reducing the rates of colon cancer in our country.

Dr. Marc Siegel, Associate Professor of Medicine at New York University School of Medicine and Medical Director of Doctor Radio at NYU, explained to Fox News the link between aspirin and colon cancer prevention.

Aspirin therapy, which has long been known to help prevent heart attacks, now may help reduce cancer, he said. The preventive dose is only a small amount, and it is important for patients to discuss any aspirin regimen with their doctors.

Making Aspirin Part of Your Cancer Prevention Regimen

According to Dr. Siegel, taking aspirin in recommended doses can reduce the risk of colon cancer by about 40 percent each year. This is because aspirin is an anti-inflammatory medicine.

However, the benefits of aspirin for cancer treatment vary drastically depending upon the age of the individual.

The following age groups should consider cancer aspirin treatment, according to the task force:

  • Adults between the ages of 50-59 – A low-dose aspirin regimen is most effective for adults in this age group. Daily aspirin can help to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD), but it can also reduce the risk of colorectal cancer among adults in this age group with a 10 percent or greater 10-year risk of CVD.At the same time, adults in this age group who use aspirin daily should not be at an increased risk for bleeding or have a life expectancy of less than 10 years. Using aspirin to prevent cancer also works best if you are on a low-dose daily regimen for at least 10 years.
  • Adults between the ages of 60-69 – A daily dose of aspirin can also help to reduce the risk of CVD and colorectal cancer among adults in the 60-69 age group, but there are also increased risks. The task force emphasizes that the decision to begin a daily aspirin regimen should be “an individual one.” Just as with adults in the 50-59 age group, adults between the ages of 60-69 should consider aspirin for cancer treatment only if they have a greater than 10 percent 10-year risk of CVD, and if they have a life expectancy of at least 10 years.

Based on current studies, there is insufficient evidence to assess the value of a daily aspirin regimen for adults younger than 50 years old and for adults ages 70 and older. This is why the task force does not recommend beginning a cancer prevention aspirin regimen if you are in these age groups.

Daily Aspirin Regimen Benefits and Risks

Before you begin any aspirin regimen, you should understand the risks. Possible risks for daily use of aspirin include bleeding, particularly gastrointestinal bleeding.

Anyone with the following conditions should not begin taking aspirin on a daily basis:

  • History of GI ulcers
  • History of upper GI pain
  • Bleeding disorders
  • Renal failure
  • Severe liver disease
  • Thrombocytopenia.

In addition, any adult within the age groups for whom a daily aspirin therapy is recommended should not begin this regimen in conjunction with anticoagulation therapy, anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) use, or uncontrolled hypertension, according to the task force.

Aspirin Therapy to Prevent Other Forms of Cancer

According to the Colon Cancer Alliance, colorectal cancer is the third most commonly diagnosed form of cancer in the country each year, and it is the second leading cause of death from cancer in both men and women.

In 2014 alone, the American Cancer Society estimates that nearly 137,000 were diagnosed with colon cancer, while more than 50,000 died from the disease. In general, the average American’s lifetime risk of developing colorectal cancer is about 5 percent.

We know that a daily dose of aspirin may reduce the risk of developing colon cancer, but does it prevent other forms of cancer, too?

A recent article from WebMD News reported that an aspirin regimen also might help to reduce the risk of stomach and esophageal cancer. A study published in the Annals of Oncology suggested that taking aspirin on a daily basis can “reduce the risk of esophageal and stomach cancers by 30 percent and deaths from these cancers by 35 to 50 percent.”

Contact an Albany Medical Malpractice Lawyer

It is important to discuss an aspirin regimen with your doctor. While taking aspirin on a daily basis may be able to drastically reduce your risk of cancer or death from the disease, you should always take into account your individual health history.

At the same time, the attorneys of Powers & Santola, LLP, understand the devastation of a delayed cancer diagnosis. One of the best ways to prevent a delayed cancer diagnosis is to take steps to prevent cancer in the first place.

If you have been the victim of a delayed cancer diagnosis, you should discuss your case with a dedicated Albany medical malpractice lawyer immediately.

At Powers & Santola, LLP, we have years of experience assisting clients who have received delayed diagnoses or misdiagnoses and have suffered tremendously as a result. Contact us today to learn more about how we can assist with your claim.