Friday, October 22, 2010

Low dose of aspirin could cut cancer, study finds

A low dose of aspirin may reduce colon cancer cases by a quarter and deaths by a third, a new study found.

But experts say aspirin's side effects of bleeding and stomach problems are too worrying for people who aren't at high risk of the disease to start taking the drug for that reason alone.

Previous studies have found a daily dose of at least 500 milligrams of aspirin could prevent colon cancer, but the adverse effects of such a high dose outweighed the benefits. Now, researchers say a low dose, equivalent to a baby or regular aspirin, also appears to work.

European researchers looked at the 20-year results of four trials with more than 14,000 people that were originally done to study aspirin's use in preventing strokes. They found people taking baby or regular aspirin pills daily for about six years reduced their colon cancer risk by 24 percent and that deaths from the disease dropped by 35 percent. That was compared to those who took a dummy pill or nothing. There seemed to be no advantage to taking more aspirin than a baby-sized dose.

The study's conclusion that even low doses of aspirin can reduce colon cancer suggests the drug is inching its way toward being used for cancer prevention, though people should not start taking aspirin daily without consulting their doctor.

The studies used European baby aspirin of 75 milligrams and regular aspirin, 300 milligrams. US. baby aspirin is 81 milligrams and regular aspirin, 325 milligrams.

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