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Aspirin may reduce risk of death from cancer

Move over, apple, and make room for another health trooper. An aspirin a day may keep cancer away.

Researchers followed 86,206 women from 1980 to 2012 and 43,977 men from 1986 to 2012. Baseline aspirin use was recorded and then researchers followed up on use every two years after that. Participants with a history of cancer, heart disease, or stroke were excluded.

Long-term follow of clinical trials of aspirin for the prevention of cardiovascular disease have shown that aspirin may be associated with a reduced risk of death from cancer, including colorectal, esophageal, and lung cancer, and possibly breast and prostate cancer.

Researchers were from Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, and Dana Farber Cancer Institute.

“Evidence suggests that aspirin not only reduces the risk of developing cancer, but may also play a strong role in reducing death from cancer,” said Yin Cao, lead author of the study and an instructor in Medicine, Clinical, and Translational Epidemiology Unit at Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School.

Overall mortality risk rates among aspirin users compared to those who did not were 11 percent (men) and 7 percent (women) lower. Mortality risk from cancer was 7 percent lower for women and 15 percent lower for men who used aspirin compared to those who did not.

During the study timeframe, 22,094 women and 14,749 men died. Among those, 8,271 women and 4,591 men died of cancer, the study found.

The largest reduction in mortality risk was for colorectal cancer — 31 percent reduction for women and 30 percent for men who regularly took aspirin. Women who took aspirin were also at a 11 percent lower risk of dying from breast cancer. Men who took aspirin had a 23 percent lower risk of dying from prostate cancer, the result showed.

The study noted that the potential benefits of aspirin use, at a range of doses and duration of use, on total and cancer-specific mortality have not been examined in large prospective cohort studies with long-term follow-up.

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