In an earlier posting we saw that Ibuprofen and Acetaminophen both have a significant risk of blowing out your liver especially if you take them with some wine or beer; but that Aspirin was protective (and not just protective against the NSAID liver risk, but reduced the risk of cirrhosis from the booze too.)
So I’ve got the news running in the background and this story goes by about aspirin, taken regularly for 10 years, increases the risk of Macular Degeneration. Didn’t catch the dose, but the risk roughly doubles. Then again, the absolute rate of cases is quite low, so double something very small is still very small.
Along the way, the MD doing the speaking says that “Aspirin is one of our oldest drugs” and then mentions that it cuts cancer risks and can help treat some cancers. What? Is that “Got cancer? Take two aspirin and call me in the morning.”? Not quite, but…
So a bit of searching turns up rather a lot on aspirin and cancer. Seems this is a real thing. (FWIW, I do remember some years back a suggestion that this might be the case, but I’d not kept track of things to see how they turned out).
But just in case anyone else had not heard of this, some quotes.
NCI-Funded Clinical Trials Show Aspirin Reduces Recurrence of Polyps
Taking daily aspirin for as little as three years was shown to reduce the development of colorectal polyps by 19 percent to 35 percent in people at high risk for colorectal cancer in two randomized, controlled clinical trials published in today’s New England Journal of Medicine. These data confirm numerous, earlier observational studies that suggested that people who regularly take aspirin have lower rates of colorectal adenomas. Adenomas are abnormal growths (polyps) that are a critical midpoint in the development of most colorectal cancers.
The trials published today were carried out by a research network headed by John A. Baron, M.D., of the Norris Cotton Cancer Center, Lebanon, N.H., and by the Cancer and Leukemia Group B, with Robert Sandler, M.D., M.P.H., of the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.
That’s a “big deal” for those of us who have had polyps removed. I’d start taking an aspirin a day for this if I wasn’t already taking one for join discomfort ;-)
A 1/5 to 1/3 reduction is not a giant number, but it’s enough to be worth it.
It looks like “low dose” doesn’t quite do it though, at least for women in the 50 ish year range.
Low-dose aspirin (100 mg) taken every other day failed to protect women from developing cancer, according to results from a 10-year, randomized trial called the Women’s Health Study. However, researchers say that more studies are needed to determine whether moderate or high doses of aspirin may yet prove protective.
Between 1992 and 2004, researchers with the Women’s Health Study (WHS) enrolled over 39,000 women health professionals at least 45 years of age; the mean age at the start of the trial was about 54 years.
It goes on to point out that the study doesn’t say anything about the effect in men, or younger women, or with different doses. So there’s more detail yet to work out.
By Salynn Boyles
WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Laura J. Martin, MD
March 20, 2012 — Millions of Americans who take an aspirin every day to lower their risk for heart attack and stroke may also be lowering their cancer risk.
New research adds to the growing evidence that daily aspirin may help prevent certain cancers from occurring.
On top of that, daily aspirin may also be an effective treatment for people who already have cancer.
In a series of studies published in The Lancet, researchers in the United Kingdom expanded on previous research linking daily low-dose or full-strength aspirin use to a reduced risk of death from cancer over a decade of follow-up.
In their latest work, the researchers examined the short-term impact of aspirin therapy on cancer, finding a reduction in cancers after about three years of daily aspirin use, says University of Oxford professor of medical neurology Peter M. Rothwell, MD, PhD, who led the studies.
People taking aspirin for as few as five years had a lower risk of dying from cancer and of having their disease spread once it had been diagnosed.
According to the analysis, taking a low-dose aspirin every day reduced the risk of death from cancer by 37% after at least five years of use.
Taking a daily aspirin for at least three years reduced cancer incidence by close to 25% in both men and women.
Among the findings:
Over an average follow-up of six-and-a-half years, daily aspirin use was associated with a 36% reduced risk of cancer with distant spread.
Colorectal cancer patients with localized disease had a 74% reduced risk for having their disease spread when they took a daily aspirin.
Daily aspirin use was associated with a 35% reduction in cancer deaths among patients with solid tumors, but not blood cancers such as leukemia.
A third analysis of trials also showed that regular aspirin use seemed to reduce the long-term risk of developing colorectal cancer, as well as cancers of the esophagus and breast.
So it looks like women about 50+ don’t benefit much (though the numbers had a tiny benefit, it wasn’t statistically significant) in that prior link, but this one finds in a more general population it has significant benefits.
That 74% reduction of spread of colorectal cancer is just huge. Most folks don’t die of the part in the bowel, but form the metastasis to other organs (especially the liver) making it non-operable.
Is it worth the risk of increased macular degeneration? Probably depends on the person. My family has a history of colon cancer, so this is a big deal for me. A family history of macular degeneration and no cancer, you probably want to follow a different course.
The studies I picked to quote are semi-random, so their might well be more definitive works out there. For me, the big difference is that this has moved from “sounds strange but maybe something there, need to look” a few years back to “Yes, works. Trying to figure out the details” and with enough conviction that folks with an M.D. are saying it on TV.
Soo… looks like a glass of wine and an aspirin are overall pretty good for you, and the aspirin reduces the liver effects from the wine to boot!