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Review: Aspirin cuts cancer rates

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By Reuters
Sunday, Aug. 10, 2014, 7:33 p.m.
 

LONDON — Taking a small daily dose of aspirin can significantly reduce the risk of developing — or dying from — bowel, stomach and esophageal cancer, according to a large review of scientific studies.

Researchers who analyzed all available evidence from studies and clinical trials assessing benefits and harm found that taking aspirin for 10 years could cut bowel cancer cases by about 35 percent and deaths from the disease by 40 percent.

Rates of esophageal and stomach cancer were cut by 30 percent, and deaths from these cancers by 35 to 50 percent.

Professor Jack Cuzick, head of the center for cancer prevention at Queen Mary University of London, said the evidence showed that to reap the benefits of aspirin, people need to take a daily dose of 75 to 100 milligrams for at least five years and probably as long as 10 years between the ages of 50 and 65.

No benefit was seen while taking aspirin for the first three years, and death rates were reduced only after five years, he and his team reported in a review in the Annals of Oncology journal.

“Our study shows that if everyone aged between 50 and 65 started taking aspirin daily for at least 10 years, there would be a 9 percent reduction in the number of cancers, strokes and heart attacks overall in men, and around 7 percent in women,” Cuzick said in a statement about the research.

The researchers warned that taking aspirin long-term increases the risk of bleeding in the stomach: Among 60-year-olds who take daily aspirin for 10 years, the risk of digestive tract bleeding increases from 2.2 percent to 3.6 percent, and this could be life-threatening in a small proportion of people, they said.

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