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Low-Dose Aspirin Lowers Risk of Colon Cancer

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Q. I have read that taking aspirin can lower the risk of getting cancer. When I asked my doctor about this he dismissed it as a chance finding and not a controlled study. What's the story?

A. The most recent analysis of aspirin's protective effects against colorectal cancer was published in The Lancet (online, Oct. 22, 2010). The investigators followed over 14,000 subjects from five randomized trials over 20 years. They found that people who took 75 mg of aspirin daily for five years reduced their risk of colon cancer by about 70 percent.

This kind of study is the gold standard in that subjects were randomized to receive either aspirin or placebo. Of course, no one should start taking aspirin daily without medical supervision. Even low doses can cause ulcers.

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Even low-dose aspirin can cause constipation, too, besides ulcers.

PEOPLE'S PHARMACY RESPONSE: WE ARE NOT AWARE OF THAT.

I read with interest the latest research on low dose aspirin and colon cancer prevention. I have Barrett's esophagus, a pre-cancerous condition, in which the affected cells differ from typical esophageal cell linings, and resemble those cells normally lining the colon. My gastroenterologist several years ago recommended I take low dose aspirin as a measure aimed at preventing those cells from morphing further into dangerous ones. I don't know that he had anything but intuition behind this idea, but I agreed with it and have followed his suggestion. Time will tell. Do you know of any studies relating to low dose aspirin and Barrett's?

..They also say the same thing (preventing colon cancer) with metformin taken by diabetics.

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