Low Dose Aspirin Lowers Colorectal Cancer Risk

Fascinating finding on colorectal cancer. New Scottish research shows that low dose aspirin (75 milligrams), taken daily, has a protective effect against the development of this type of cancer.

The numbers are sobering… an estimated 102,900 new cases of colon; another 39,670 cases of rectal cancer will be diagnosed in the United States during 2010. The good news coming out of this work is that even aspirin taken at the lowest dose helps, and the protective effect takes hold after only one year.

Earlier work had shown aspirin does protect against colorectal cancer, but no research has determined the best dose, and how long it has to be taken.

Aspirin has yet to be added to recommendations for treating colorectal cancer due to the questions on dosage, how long you need to be taking it and its effect on survival. Some studies have suggested a higher dose of aspirin might be needed, but this latest case controlled research finds that a lower dose is enough to provide protection.

The team from the University of Edinburgh examined medical records for almost 2,800 patients (ages 16 to 79 years) who had colorectal cancer; with 3,000 others matched for sex, age and where they live as controls.

The subjects had completed food frequency and lifestyle habit questionnaires to give a picture of typical diet and lifestyle choices, known to have an affect on the risk of developing colorectal cancer. The researchers then tracked the colorectal cancer survivors and those who were diagnosed with the disease over a five-year period.

The study found that taking low dose aspirin every day was tied to a 22% reduced risk of colorectal cancer. After five years, the risk dropped by 30%. What was truly intriguing about the research was that increasing the aspirin dose might not be helpful.

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Does Low Dose Aspirin Cut Colorectal Cancer Risk..? Continued…

What’s more, 354 (15.5%) of those with colorectal cancer were taking low dose aspirin, compared to 526 (18.0%) of those who were cancer free. Any nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID, for short) like aspirin, ibuprofen and naproxen appear to provide a protective benefit. The association was seen in both men and women, but was significant for male subjects.

Another interesting study finding? Taking NSAIDs regularly before colorectal cancer diagnoses does not impact survival time. This effect could be due to the sample size or a limited duration of intake in the subjects according to the researchers. The team could not say if the subjects continued taking the aspirin after their diagnosis.

The results of this work, while promising, need to be confirmed by future studies, especially since some of the research in the area of low dose aspirin and colorectal cancer has brought mixed results. Today many Americans are taking aspirin for heart disease, and increasing this dose is not a recommendation that will come from your doctor anytime soon due to the risk of harmful side effects from aspirin, compared to still uncertain benefits. Colorectal cancer screening is an important way to protect yourself from this dangerous disease. These tests can detect and remove colorectal polyps before they get the chance to grow into cancer. A good rule of thumb is to follow the American Cancer Society recommendation; men and women over 50 should be screened each year.