Healthy living

Aspirin helps prevent bowel cancer

Aspirin helps prevent bowel cancer Cuts cancer cases and deaths

A low dose of aspirin, taken daily, may help revent bowel cancer, new research suggests.

UK researchers found that it cut the number of colorectal cancer cases by a quarter and deaths by more than a third.

Past research has shown that high doses of aspirin (500mg) taken daily reduce bowel cancer rates, but could also cause side effects such as internal bleeding.

Experts at Oxford University and the John Radcliffe Hospital analysed the data on more than 14,000 adults from five different studies to find out what effect taking a low dose of aspirin had on bowel cancer rates and deaths due to the disease.

The health of the patients was monitored for around 20 years.

In the study, a 75mg dose of aspirin taken daily cut the risk of colon cancer by 24 per cent and deaths due to the disease by 35 per cent.

Aspirin lowered the risk of developing proximal colon cancer by around 70 per cent, but had little effect on the development of cancer at other sites in the colon and rectum, the researchers said.

They added that the results may tip the balance in favour of using low dose aspirin as a preventative treatment for bowel cancer.

Professor Peter Rothwell, who led the study, said: “Our findings suggest that long-term low-dose aspirin treatment and sigmoidoscopy screening would combine to substantially reduce cancer incidence in all parts of the colon and rectum.”

Each year, some 38,600 people in Britain are diagnosed with bowel cancer, and around 16,000 die from it.

The government recently announced it would be launching a nationwide sigmoidy screening programme for the disease.

The findings are published in the journal Lancet.

This article was published on Fri 22 October 2010

Image © Mara Zemgaliete -

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