Low dose aspirin may help prevent colon cancer in women. Numerous studies have suggested that regular aspirin use has a protective effect against a number of different kinds of cancers. The dose, however, has been controversial.
A new study involving nearly 40,000 healthy women demonstrates that even a low dose could be beneficial. The volunteers were assigned to take 100 mg of aspirin or a placebo every other day. After 18 years of follow-up, the investigators found a 20% lower risk of colorectal cancer among the women taking low-dose aspirin. What makes this study compelling is the large number of women involved and the long-term follow-up. That such a low dose could have an impact was somewhat surprising.
Even 100 mg of aspirin ever other day does have risks, however. The investigators noted that 8.3% of the women on aspirin had intestinal bleeding compared to 7.3% of those on placebo. Likewise, the women on aspirin were more likely to develop stomach ulcers, 7.3% compared to 6.2% on placebo.
Despite the downside, the scientists conclude: “Long-term use of alternate-day, low-dose aspirin may reduce risk for colorectal cancer in healthy women.”