Long-term aspirin use may cut risk of digestive cancers

Long-term aspirin use may cut risk of digestive cancers

People who are prescribed to take aspirin for long periods are at a significantly reduced risk of digestive cancers, a study claims.

From data of over 600,000 people, researchers from the Chinese University of Hong Kong compared patients who were prescribed aspirin over a long period (for at least six months, average duration of aspirin prescribed was 7.7 years) with non-aspirin users and assessed the incidences of a number of cancers.

Those prescribed with aspirin showed a 47 per cent reduction in liver and oesophageal cancer incidence, a 38 per cent reduction in gastric cancer incidence, a 34 per cent reduction in pancreatic cancer incidence and a 24 per cent reduction in colorectal cancer incidence.

Digestive cancers account for almost a quarter of cancer cases in Europe. Colorectal, gastric and pancreatic cancer are within the top five cancer killers throughout the continent, with digestive cancers representing 30.1 per cent of cancer deaths.

The effect of long-term use of aspirin on cancer incidence was also examined for cancers outside of the digestive system.

A significant reduction was shown for leukaemia, lung and prostate cancers, but not for breast, bladder and kidney cancers.

Aspirin is used across the globe to treat a number of health conditions, ranging from short-term pain relief to long-term prescriptions.

While the use of aspirin is subject to debate within the medical community, a recent study found that patients who stopped taking aspirin were 37 per cent more likely to have an adverse cardiovascular event, such as a heart attack or stroke, than those who continued with their prescription.

"The findings demonstrate that the long-term use of aspirin can reduce the risk of developing many major cancers," said Kelvin Tsoi from the Chinese University of Hong Kong.

"What should be noted is the significance of the results for cancers within the digestive tract, where the reductions in cancer incidence were all very substantial, especially for liver and oesophageal cancer," said Tsoi.

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