According to studies published last week in The Lancet, taking a daily dose of
The new studies, led by Peter Rothwell of Britain's
For further clarification, we turned to Dr. Howard Kaufman, director of the
Q. What have we learned from these findings?
A. I think we've suspected aspirin had a beneficial role to play in preventing cancer, and these two long-term studies go a long way in supporting that notion. Some studies in the United States haven't found this, but these recent studies are very well-designed and very compelling. A lot of us in the field are excited about the findings.
Q. How will this change things?
A. The good news: We have something that could help prevent cancer. But like all medications, there are side effects, such as stomach bleeding,
Q. Did the studies find that an aspirin works on particular cancers?
A. The greatest effect was seen in
Q. So who should take aspirin?
A. I think we can consider individuals with a high risk for or strong family history of colon cancer, would be a good candidate. ... However, if a patient has a peptic ulcer or known bleeding problems then the risks aren't worth the potential benefits.
Q. Can you explain how aspirin works in preventing cancer?
A. Although we do not fully understand the mechanism yet, there's been interesting research suggesting that aspirin may help prevent cancer by blocking
Q. In recent years aspirin has been credited with reducing
A. It is remarkable. It has been difficult to fund research in cancer prevention — and particularly with aspirin — because prevention studies take a long time to complete, cost a lot of money to perform and aspirin is a relatively inexpensive and widely available drug. Thus, there's not a lot of financial incentive to pursue this line of research.
Q. I know what to do to cut my chances of having a cardiac episode — keep weight,
A. First, you have to assess the risk, such as personal medical history, use of tobacco and alcohol and the presence of cancer in first-degree relatives. ... Then, a screening plan can be organized for an individual patient based on their risk. ... You should be having a conversation with your doctor, based on your health and family history.