Aspirin, Cuts Cancer Death By 50percent


Taking an aspirin every day cuts the risk of dying from a range of common cancers,  according to a major study.

British researchers have discovered the first definitive evidence that aspirin  reduces overall death rates by a third after just five years’ use.

Rates were slashed by half for some cancers and the longer people took the drug, the  better the protection.

The study has led to the 100-year-old painkiller – costing just 1p a tablet – being  hailed as ‘the most amazing drug in the world.’

Experts say healthy middle-aged people who start taking low-dose aspirin around the  age of 45 or 50 for 20 to 30 years could expect to reap the most benefit, because  cancer rates rise with age.

In addition, a 75mg dose – a quarter of a standard 300mg tablet – helps prevent  heart attacks and strokes even in people who have not been diagnosed with  cardiovascular problems.

Millions of heart patients who already take low-dose aspirin on doctors’ orders to  ward off a second heart attack or stroke will be getting built-in cancer protection.

There has been widespread concern that side effects such as stomach bleeding and  haemorrhagic stroke would outweigh any advantage among healthy people starting a  daily regime.

But Professor Peter Rothwell, of the John Radcliffe Hospital, Oxford, who headed the  latest study of almost 26,000 patients, is convinced the ground rules have changed.  He said: “These findings provide the first proof in man that aspirin reduces deaths  due to several common cancers.

“Previous guidelines have rightly cautioned that in healthy middle-aged people, the  small risk of bleeding on aspirin partly offsets the benefits from prevention of  strokes and heart attacks, but the reductions in deaths due to several common  cancers will now alter this balance for many people.”

The study, published in The Lancet medical journal, looked at eight trials where  heart patients were allocated daily aspirin or dummy treatment for five years. The  heart benefits had already been reported – this time the researchers wanted to  discover what happened to death rates from cancer. They found dramatic results, with  aspirin linked to fewer deaths from a host of cancers. After five years of taking  aspirin, death rates fell by 34 percent for all cancers and 54 percent for  gastrointestinal cancers. Even after 20 years, the risk of cancer death remained 20  percent lower in groups previously allocated aspirin for all solid cancers and 35  percent lower for gastrointestinal cancers.

It took five years for the benefits to emerge for oesophageal (gullet), pancreatic,  brain and some forms of lung cancer. It took ten years for protection to take effect  in stomach and colorectal cancer and 15 years for prostate cancer. Too few women  were included in the trials to give results for breast and ovarian cancer but the  figures were ‘all in the right direction’.

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