A study published in ecancermedicalscience by Cardiff University has revealed that aspirin reduces the risk of cancer death by 20%. The study, led by Professor Peter Elwood, shows that aspirin lowers the incidence of death by cancer and its metastatic spread in the body when used with other medication. Previous research has shown that aspirin reduces the incidence of cancer.
Elwood has been studying the effects of aspirin for over five decades. In 1974, he carried out another study to show that taking one tablet of aspirin a day reduced the risk of death from heart diseases and stroke by 24%.
How researchers conducted the study
In the study, researchers did a systematic review of 118 published studies involving patients with 18 different types of cancer. They were able to narrow down 250,000 patients with cancer who took aspirin.
The types of cancer observed were gastrointestinal and gastric, breast, head and neck, colon, lung, prostate, ovary, nasopharynx, endometrium, oesophagus, bladder, liver, pancreas and gallbladder cancers. They also included Leukaemia, melanoma and glioma.
Results showed that the 250,000 patients who took cancer reduced their risk of dying regardless of the cancer type.
Researchers were quick to note that their study was only observational. They did not conduct any randomised trials to show the efficacy of aspirin in cancer treatment. Moreover, none of the patients who had taken aspirin did it to treat their cancer. Researchers still need more information on the topic.
Other researchers have currently set up randomised trials to test the efficacy of aspirin in cancer treatment, but it will be some time before results are out.
However, researchers still encourage cancer patients to bring up aspirin to their doctors. Researchers also stress that patients should not use aspirin alone but in addition to other medication.
The side effects of aspirin
Researchers made sure to look into concerns that could be raised from taking aspirin daily. A side-effect of aspirin is that it causes blood-thinning, which could, in turn, cause excessive bleeding. The researchers sought feedback from the authors of each paper to ask if any of the patients had experienced bleeding. They found that while bleeding had occurred, it was not excessive, and no patient had died from it.