Higher doses needed to produce effect, more research needed to clarify risks
A new report from the Nurses Health Study finds that regular, long-term aspirin use can significantly reduce the risk of colorectal cancer, as suggested by several earlier studies. However, the benefit appears to require more than a decade and is strongest at dose levels associated with a greater risk of side effects such as bleeding. Similar results were found for non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) such as ibuprofen and naproxen. The report – from researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH), Brigham and Womens Hospital and Dana-Farber Cancer Institute – appears in the August 24 Journal of the American Medical Association.
"Several earlier studies have found that, among patients with a history of colon polyps or cancer, regular aspirin treatment prevents the recurrence of precancerous polyps. However, the ability of aspirin to reduce the long-term incidence of invasive cancer has not been well-demonstrated," says Andrew Chan, MD, MPH, of the MGH Gastrointestinal Unit, the papers lead author. "Our study did find a protective effect of long-term aspirin use on risk of invasive colorectal cancer, but only at dosage levels considerably higher than those used to prevent cardiovascular disease."
Sue McGreevey | EurekAlert!
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