Aspirin has many virtues. It is recently its anticancer effect that several large studies have confirmed.
In 2012, a British team showed that by giving low doses of aspirin (75 mg per day) over five years or more, the occurrence of all cancers decreased by 21% and that of colon cancer, by 37%.
Similar results with the American study Women’s Health Study carried out on more than 40,000 women aged at least 45 years and treated with 100 mg of aspirin every other day: ten to eighteen years after the start of the study, the researchers observed a decrease of 20% colorectal cancer in those who took aspirin.
Finally, it is from Japan that a new confirmation came. Of more than 300 people operated on by endoscopy for colorectal tumors, half of those who took 100 mg aspirin-based treatment per day for two years were 40% more likely than the other group of not to have recurrence .
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This benefit is seen especially in people with a high level of 15PGDH protein in the colon. This could become a predictive marker of the response to aspirin.
What are the benefits of aspirin?
In short, many results plead in favor of prevention of cancer by aspirin,effective on tumors of the colon, stomach and esophagus. The other organs would also be protected, with the exception of the kidneys, without knowing why.
But from there to recommending this drug to everyone, there is still a step to take. First, because there are always uncertainties, such as the precise dose to give.
“And we must not forget that the side effects of aspirin are not negligible,” said Prof. Robert Benamouzig, head of the gastroenterology department at the Avicenne hospital in Bobigny.
What are the risks of taking aspirin?
Aspirin can cause severe bleeding at the level of the digestive system and the brain, even at low doses (75 to 100 mg): approximately one person in 1000 would suffer from a digestive hemorrhage and ten times less from a cerebral hemorrhage (Jama, June 2012; Nat. Rev. Clin. Oncol., April 2012).
It will therefore be “profitable” only if it prevents more cancers than it risks causing bleeding.
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In its October 2013 issue, the independent medical journal Prescribe also estimated “That it was not shown that the risk-benefit balance of aspirin in the general population is favorable in the prevention of colorectal cancers”.
What to do: whether or not to take aspirin for prevention?
As the data argue in favor of taking aspirin in the event of a family history, we must remain cautious for people without particular risk. And wait for the conclusions of international expert groups, especially in the United States.
For the time being, in the absence of official recommendations, doctors are a little bored: it is difficult for them to prescribe a precise dose to anyone who wants to be treated in the prevention of colon cancer.
At any rate, avoid self-medication. The advice of the attending physician is essential to assess whether or not there is a risk of bleeding when taking aspirin every day. It’s really on a case-by-case basis.