An observational study, conducted at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH; MA, USA) looked at the potential correlation between long-term aspirin use and the risk of colorectal (CR) as well as gastrointestinal (GI) cancer.
Published online recently in JAMA Oncology, Andrew T Chan (MGH) and his team investigated the association between cancer and aspirin in a group of 135,965 men and women participating in two US-based studies; 20,414 cancers among 88,084 women and 7571 cancers among 47,881 men were documented over a 32-year follow-up period.
A recent recommendation by the U.S. Preventative Services Task Force stated that routine use of aspirin could help prevent colorectal cancer and cardiovascular disease.
In Chan’s observation, the results highlighted that routine use of aspirin two times or more per week was associated with a 15 % reduced risk for GI cancers and a 19 % lower risk for CR cancers. Notably, there was no association reported between regular use of aspirin and risk of other major cancer types e.g., breast, prostate or lung.
The findings suggest that aspirin may influence additional mechanisms important for GI cancer formation, hence the stronger association between aspirin and a lower risk of GI cancers compared with other types.
Chan and colleagues propose that routine aspirin use may prevent up to 17 % of CR cancers among those who did not undergo lower endoscopy and 8.5 % of CR cancers among those who did, on a population-wide level.
The study concludes: “Aspirin may be a potential low-cost alternative to endoscopic CRC [colorectal cancer] screening in resource-limited settings or a complement in settings in which such programs are already implemented, including the general US population, in whom screening adherence remains suboptimal.”