Healthy living

Daily low dose aspirin wards off bowel cancer

Regular low dose aspirin wards off bowel cancer No effect in people with disease

Taking a low dose of aspirin each day can help prevent bowel cancer, a study has found.

The benefits of taking a daily pill were apparent after just one year, and increase over time, said the scientists based at the University of Edinburgh.

Bowel cancer is the second most common cause of cancer death in the world. More than 38,000 people in the UK are diagnosed with bowel cancer each year, and around 16,000 die from it.

Although previous research has shown that aspirin protects against bowel cancer, the most effective dose was and how often it needs to be taken was not known.

In the study, 2,800 people with bowel cancer and nearly 3,000 people without the disease were given non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAID) such as aspirin or ibuprofen and tracked for five years.

Overall, taking any NSAID regularly, curbed the chances of developing bowel cancer compared with those who didn’t take these painkillers.

The scientists said the findings were true, irrespective of lifestyle choices, age, diet, weight, and background.

But after a year, taking daily low dose aspirin (75mg) was associated with a 22 per cent lower risk of developing bowel cancer in healthy people, rising to 30 per cent after five years.

Higher doses of the drug did not increase the level of protection against the disease.

The study, published in the online version of the journal Gut also found that taking NSAIDs of any kind did not have increase the risk of death from any cause, or improve survival rates in people who already had bowel cancer.

This article was published on Thu 16 September 2010

Image © Mara Zemgaliete -

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