aspirin bottle and bottles of Motrin IB (ibuprofen) and Advil

Regular use of aspirin and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) can protect against colorectal cancer, but not everyone benefits from this effect.

Why Not Take Aspirin for Cancer Prevention?

Researchers have known for many years that aspirin and NSAIDs like ibuprofen, naproxen and diclofenac appear to have anti-cancer properties. But doctors have been reluctant to recommend such drugs because some people are susceptible to life-threatening bleeding ulcers.

In this study, investigators looked at the genetic makeup of people who had developed colon cancer or cancer of the rectum and compared their genomes to those of people without cancer.

Undesirable Results

People with one of two specific genotypes, about 9 percent of the total, got no protection from taking an NSAID. A small proportion of people, about 4 percent, were at higher risk of colon cancer if they took one of these drugs.

The risky genotypes are now known and it should be possible for doctors to advise their patients whether it will be helpful or harmful to take aspirin or an NSAID for colorectal cancer prevention.

Genetic Testing Still Elusive

The genetic tests are not yet available for clinical use, however, so it will be some time before this research will make a difference for ordinary people. People who are aware of a family history of colon cancer should periodically ask their doctors to help them get access to this testing so they will know whether or not aspirin, ibuprofen or another NSAID would provide a measure of risk reduction.

[JAMA, March 17, 2015]

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  1. Audrey

    My husband got ulcerative colitis and had to have his entire colon removed and is living with an illeostomy and wears an external bag. He had taken Ibuprofen almost daily for years and the doctor said that contributed to this disease because is damages the intestines. Be aware of over the counter medications and do not assume they are safe.

  2. Thomas

    I’m considering whether or not to take a supplement that contains Ashgawanda
    Root Powder. I’ve heard anecdotal evidence about this herb causing liver and
    or kidney damage. Have there been official reports about this?

  3. Sam

    It might be useful to know in what ethnic groups these genes are found.

  4. PP

    I want to hear more about this

  5. Sara
    South Carolina

    I love your website…..very informative as well as the booklets that are available for ordering.

    Thank you

  6. J.
    United States

    Do genetic tests which supply board info on genetic groups (such as those provide by provide sufficient genetic info to determine if aspirin might be beneficial?

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