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Aspirin May Ward Off Colon Cancer

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.”

[Annals of Internal Medicine, online, July 16, 2013]

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About the Author
Terry Graedon, PhD, is a medical anthropologist and co-host of The People’s Pharmacy radio show, co-author of The People’s Pharmacy syndicated newspaper columns and numerous books, and co-founder of The People’s Pharmacy website. Terry taught in the Duke University School of Nursing and was an adjunct assistant professor in the Department of Anthropology. She is a Fellow of the Society of Applied Anthropology. Terry is one of the country's leading authorities on the science behind folk remedies..
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