An Aspirin a Day
I have written before about studies suggesting that a daily aspirin may provide an important anti-cancer benefit for most people. This is a thoughtful article from Sciencemag.org that summarizes the available evidence. Suffice it to say that the evidence seems to be mounting. Of course, there are people for whom this would be a bad idea, so it surely falls into the "talk with your doctor first" category. However, for most of us, it is easy and pretty inoffensive to add an aspirin to our morning's routines. Wash your face, brush your teeth, take an aspirin.
Here is the summary. If you would like to read the full report, e-mail me (firstname.lastname@example.org), and I will send it to you.
Will an Aspirin a Day Keep Cancer Away?
Data suggesting that regular aspirin use lowers cancer risk has accumulated to the point where some argue that it's time to recommend that many more people take the drug
IN THE LATE 1970S, A SURGEON IN Melbourne, Australia, wanted to figure out why his country had a relatively high rate of colorectal cancer. After he and colleagues interviewed more than 700 cancer patients and a comparable number of healthy people, they reported in 1987 and 1988 that Australians' penchant for beer, fatty foods, and red meat all seemed to predispose them to the disease. The researchers also found a surprising protective factor: People who regularly used aspirin were 40% less likely to develop colorectal cancer than those who didn't take the drug.
That first hint that the age-old headache remedy also blocks intestinal tumors helped spur a wave of research in animals and clinical trials that established that aspirin and other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) protect against colon cancer. And now, 2 decades later, aspirin is generating new excitement among cancer researchers. A series of studies from the United Kingdom in the last 2 years has offered the first evidence from placebo-controlled clinical trials that regularly taking low doses of aspirin wards off other types of cancer as well.
The studies, which tallied cancer cases among people who had been taking aspirin for years to prevent vascular events such as heart attack and stroke, found that death rates from several tumor types were as much as 37% lower.
And even in the people who developed a cancer, taking aspirin seemed to slow the spread of tumors to other parts of the body. "It's just about the first proof of principle that a simple compound of any kind can reduce the risk of several cancers," says lead researcher Peter Rothwell of the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom.