Aspirin, NSAIDs linked to reduced risk of colorectal cancer

Risk from the third most common cancer in the US could be reduced through the long-term use of low-dose aspirin and non-aspirin non steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, a new study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine shows.

Colorectal cancer (CRC) is the third most common cancerin the US, behind lung and prostate cancer in men and lung and breast cancer in women.

CRC is the second leading cause of cancer death. About 9 out of 10 people diagnosed with CRC are at least 50 years old.

Forty percent of Americans aged 50 years and over have benign tumors in the colon; it is estimated that 2% will progress to cancer. As this form of cancer is especially slow to develop, it is open to successful preventive actions such as taking low-dose aspirin and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).

A team from the Department of Clinical Epidemiology at Aarhus University Hospital in Denmark found that people taking 75-150 mg of aspirin continuously for 5 years or longer saw an associated 27% reduced risk for CRC, increasing to 30-45% for those taking non-aspirin NSAIDs. The largest risk reductions come from NSAIDs that target specific enzymes for inflammation and pain.

The study group was made up of 10,280 adults with first-time CRC and 102,800 control participants. Lifestyle factors such as diet, weight and exercise were not measured.

Those in the study who adhered most closely to taking low-dose aspirin made up only about 2-3% of the study group.

“Low-dose aspirin, already taken regularly by millions, reduces the risk of colorectal cancer,” Dr. Gurpreet Singh Ranger, a colorectal surgeon and proctologist from the New Brunswick and Dalhousie Medical School in Canada, told Reuters Health.