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Aspirin and cancer

Author : Pierre Allain Date : 2012-4-21

The popular press has largely commented on the results of some recent studies showing the benefit of aspirin in preventing and even treating cancer.

The Lancet, March 21, 2012, published two papers of the team of Peter M. Rothwell about aspirin and cancer. One paper showed that the daily use of aspirin for 3 to 5 years decreased by approximately 15% the incidence of cancers and mortality by cancers. The second paper showed that the daily use of aspirin, even at low doses, reduced the risk of cancer with distant metastases, especially colorectal cancers. Another paper of Rothwell published in The Lancet Oncology, March 21, 2012, showed that the regular use of aspirin over the long term, twenty years, reduced the risk of cancer, particularly colorectal cancer, and reduced the risk of distant metastases (without reducing the local extension of cancers).

One may regret not to find in the papers of Rothwell raw data about overall mortality in people taking aspirin versus placebo. If aspirin reduces really cancer incidence and cancer metastasizing and in addition it reduces the incidence of certain cardiovascular events, we should find a decrease in overall mortality even if it slightly increases mortality by bleeding.

Furthermore, a meta-analysis published in Archives Internal Medicine February 13, 2012, showed that aspirin use at low-dose in subjects without cardiovascular history reduced the risk of cardiovascular events, particularly nonfatal myocardial infarctions, without reducing the mortality from cardiovascular diseases or from cancers because in parallel it increases the risk of bleeding. These results appear to not be in complete agreement with those of Rothwell.

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