When it comes to cancer treatment, most people picture intensive chemotherapy, or high-tech stem cell treatments. However, a new study found that one potential supplement to traditional therapies can be found in any household medicine cabinet. According to new research presented this week at a meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research in Washington, long-term use of aspirin may extend the lifespan of certain cancer patients.
The study, now published online in Cancer Epidemiology and Prevention found that people who took aspirin regularly had a 7 percent to 11 percent lower risk of dying from cancer compared to those who did not use the drug, Time reported. According to the report, this benefit was greatest among patients with colon cancer, but breast cancer, lung, and prostate cancer was also affected. Also, the benefit was greatest for people taking two to seven doses of regular-strength aspirin each week for about six years. While the results are exciting, it’s still unclear why aspirin has this effect on cancer patients.
“Evidence has been accumulating very rapidly showing aspirin works in reducing cancer and cardiovascular disease mortality,” study researcher Yin Cao told CNN. “It is good to remember, though, if a person wants to take a low-dose aspirin, especially if a person has had cancer, they will want to have an initial conversation with their doctor first.”
For the study, the team looked at information spanning 32 years for 86,000 women and 43,000 men, paying close attention to who took aspirin regularly and cancer rates.
Aspirin, or acetylsalicylic acid, is a common pain reliever drug you can find in almost any household. According to Medical News Today, it is classified as a non-steroidal anti inflammatory drug (NSAID) and used to treat pain, lower fever, and reduce inflammation. However, this drug also has many other useful side effects, such as preventing the formation of blood clots. For this reason, it is also prescribed to high-risk stroke patients or patients who have recently suffered a heart attack.
While the new information of aspirin’s link to cancer is exciting, the researchers stress that it does not mean we should begin to take aspirin on a daily basis. The drug can have adverse side effects such as causing stomach ulcers. It’s best to consult a doctor before you begin any new medical regimen.
Source: Cao Y, Stampfer M, Willett W, et al. Long-term aspirin use and total and cancer-specific mortality. Cancer Epidemiology and Prevention. 2017