Evidence keeps accumulating that aspirin can help prevent certain cancers. Now a study from the Netherlands shows that colon cancer patients taking low-dose aspirin have improved survival. The research included 500 older people with colon cancer. One fifth received low-dose aspirin for heart attack prevention. The study lasted from 1998 to 2007. During that time people who had been prescribed aspirin were only half as likely to die as the other volunteers.
Earlier this year a report published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute showed that people taking daily aspirin were 40% less likely to develop digestive tract cancers. Over 100,000 American senior citizens were tracked for 10 years. Doctors don’t suggest that people start taking aspirin on their own because aspirin can cause digestive tract irritation and bleeding ulcers.
Patients at risk of colon cancer or other digestive tract cancers should discuss the pros and cons of aspirin with their physicians. The benefits and risks need to be weighed carefully in each individual case. Earlier research suggests that 100 to 250 mg of vitamin C taken with the aspirin may offer some protection (Journal of Physiology & Pharmacology, Nov. 2006, Suppl. 5), but this too should be evaluated by doctor and patient together.
[Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, Dec., 2012]