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Aspirin Might Have a Role in Preventing and Treating Cancer
Regular aspirin use is associated with lower risks for cancer, death from cancer, and cancer metastasis, according to three meta-analyses in the Lancet and Lancet Oncology.
In one, researchers examined patient data in some 50 controlled trials of aspirin versus placebo for prevention of vascular events. Aspirin recipients showed a significant reduction in cancer incidence and cancer-related deaths.
A separate analysis of five cardiovascular prevention trials found that among participants who developed cancer during the trials, aspirin recipients showed a lower rate of distant metastases, especially in colorectal cancer.
Finally, an analysis of these effects in observational versus randomized studies showed that aspirin's benefits were consistent in both types of studies.
Commentators argue that the absence of data from the Women's Health Study and the Physicians' Health Study (neither of which found anticancer benefits from aspirin) makes the findings less compelling, and definitive conclusions about the routine use of aspirin for cancer prevention cannot yet be made.
Lancet article on prevention (Free abstract)
Lancet article on metastasis (Free abstract)
Lancet comment (Subscription required)
Published in Physician's First Watch March 21, 2012
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