Aspirin Reported to Curb Colon Cancer

<i> from Reuters</i>

Aspirin, which has been shown to help reduce the risk of heart disease, also helps prevent colon cancer, a medical journal reported Sunday.

A study in the Annals of Internal Medicine reported that people who had taken aspirin twice or more per week over an extended period were significantly less likely to get either colon or rectal cancer.

Colon and rectal cancer are among the most common and deadly forms of cancer.

“We observed a lower risk for colo-rectal cancers among users of aspirin compared with non-users,” wrote the authors of the study, conducted by researchers at the Harvard Medical School and Boston’s Brigham and Women’s Hospital.


The study found that among those who had taken regular aspirin doses the longest--at least four years--the relative risk of colon or rectal cancer diagnosis was 38% of that of non-aspirin users.

The study tracked 47,900 male health care professionals who have been taking part in a broader heart-disease and cancer project begun in 1986.

Its findings provided the strongest evidence to date of the benefits of aspirin in preventing colon cancer--benefits that have been indicated in earlier studies, the Annals said in an editorial.

“With recent developments proving the efficacy of screening, ongoing advances in the identification of high-risk groups, and the possibility of risk modification by diet and chemo-prevention with aspirin, the prospect for decreasing mortality from colo-rectal cancer by preventive approaches seems bright,” the editorial said.


The editorial’s author, Dr. Harinder Garewal of the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Tucson, said one theory is that the preventive effects of aspirin may come from its impact on the production of a class of chemicals that help control the circulatory system and growth in humans.

But he said that theory has not been proved.