Long-term aspirin use linked to lower risk for gastrointestinal tract cancers

March 03, 2016

Regular low doses of aspirin for at least six years was associated with a modestly reduced overall risk for cancer, primarily due to a lower risk for gastrointestinal tract cancer, especially colorectal cancers, according to an article published online by JAMA Oncology.

The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recently recommended aspirin to prevent colorectal cancer and cardiovascular disease among many U.S. adults. However, the association of aspirin on the risk of other types of cancer and what additional effect aspirin might have in the context of screening remain unclear.

Andrew T. Chan, M.D., M.P.H., of the Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, and coauthors looked at the association of aspirin with cancer among 135,965 women and men enrolled in two large U.S. studies of health care professionals.

The authors documented 20,414 cancers among 88,084 women and 7,571 cancers among 47,881 men during a 32-year follow-up. Regular use of aspirin two times or more per week was associated with a 3 percent lower risk for overall cancers, which was mostly due to a 15 percent lower risk for gastrointestinal tract cancers and a 19 percent lower risk for cancers of the colon and rectum, according to the results.

However, regular use of aspirin was not associated with a lower risk for other major cancers, such as breast, prostate or lung, the authors report.

Study findings suggest that, for the gastrointestinal tract, aspirin may influence additional mechanisms important for the formation of cancer, which may explain the stronger association of aspirin for a lower risk of gastrointestinal cancers.

On a population-wide level, the authors suggest regular aspirin use could prevent 17 percent of colorectal cancers among those who did not undergo lower endoscopy and 8.5 percent of colorectal cancers among those who underwent lower endoscopy.

Limitations to the study include that results of an observational study, such as this, are not as definitive as those of a randomized clinical trial.

"Aspirin may be a potential low-cost alternative to endoscopic CRC [colorectal cancer] screening in resource-limited settings or a complement in settings in which such programs are already implemented, including the general U.S. population, in whom screening adherence remains suboptimal," the study concludes.

(JAMA Oncol. Published online March 3, 2016. doi:10.1001/jamaoncol.2015.6396. Available pre-embargo to the media at http://media.jamanetwork.com.)

Editor's Note: The study includes conflict of interest and funding/support disclosures. Please see the article for additional information, including other authors, author contributions and affiliations, financial disclosures, funding and support, etc.

Commentary: Aspirin for Cancer Prevention

"Despite these careful analyses, perhaps the most important and unique contributions of this study are the team's assessment of aspirin's potential population-wide impact and its absolute benefits in the context of screening. ... This finding is important because it suggests that aspirin use may complement CRC screening and may have an absolute benefit regardless of endoscopy status, a critical insight that few other studies have provided thus far," write Ernest T. Hawk, M.D., M.P.H., of the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, and coauthors in a related commentary.

(JAMA Oncol. Published online March 3, 2016. doi:10.1001/jamaoncol.2015.6395. Available pre-embargo to the media at http://media.jamanetwork.com.)

Editor's Note: The article contains funding/support disclosures. Please see the article for additional information, including other authors, author contributions and affiliations, financial disclosures, funding and support, etc.
-end-
Media Advisory: To contact corresponding study author Andrew T. Chan, M.D., M.P.H., call Katie Marquedant at 617 726-0337 or email kmarquedant@partners.org. To contact commentary corresponding author Ernest T. Hawk, M.D., M.P.H., call Clayton R. Boldt, Ph.D. at 713-792-9518 or email crboldt@mdanderson.org.

Video and Audio Content: A video and audio report is available under embargo at this link and includes broadcast-quality downloadable video and audio files, B-roll, scripts, and other images. Please email JAMAReport@synapticdigital.com with any questions.

To place an electronic embedded link in your story: Links will be live at the embargo time: http://oncology.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?doi=10.1001/jamaoncol.2015.6396; http://oncology.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?doi=10.1001/jamaoncol.2015.6395

The JAMA Network Journals

Related Cancer Articles from Brightsurf:

New blood cancer treatment works by selectively interfering with cancer cell signalling
University of Alberta scientists have identified the mechanism of action behind a new type of precision cancer drug for blood cancers that is set for human trials, according to research published in Nature Communications.

UCI researchers uncover cancer cell vulnerabilities; may lead to better cancer therapies
A new University of California, Irvine-led study reveals a protein responsible for genetic changes resulting in a variety of cancers, may also be the key to more effective, targeted cancer therapy.

Breast cancer treatment costs highest among young women with metastic cancer
In a fight for their lives, young women, age 18-44, spend double the amount of older women to survive metastatic breast cancer, according to a large statewide study by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Cancer mortality continues steady decline, driven by progress against lung cancer
The cancer death rate declined by 29% from 1991 to 2017, including a 2.2% drop from 2016 to 2017, the largest single-year drop in cancer mortality ever reported.

Stress in cervical cancer patients associated with higher risk of cancer-specific mortality
Psychological stress was associated with a higher risk of cancer-specific mortality in women diagnosed with cervical cancer.

Cancer-sniffing dogs 97% accurate in identifying lung cancer, according to study in JAOA
The next step will be to further fractionate the samples based on chemical and physical properties, presenting them back to the dogs until the specific biomarkers for each cancer are identified.

Moffitt Cancer Center researchers identify one way T cell function may fail in cancer
Moffitt Cancer Center researchers have discovered a mechanism by which one type of immune cell, CD8+ T cells, can become dysfunctional, impeding its ability to seek and kill cancer cells.

More cancer survivors, fewer cancer specialists point to challenge in meeting care needs
An aging population, a growing number of cancer survivors, and a projected shortage of cancer care providers will result in a challenge in delivering the care for cancer survivors in the United States if systemic changes are not made.

New cancer vaccine platform a potential tool for efficacious targeted cancer therapy
Researchers at the University of Helsinki have discovered a solution in the form of a cancer vaccine platform for improving the efficacy of oncolytic viruses used in cancer treatment.

American Cancer Society outlines blueprint for cancer control in the 21st century
The American Cancer Society is outlining its vision for cancer control in the decades ahead in a series of articles that forms the basis of a national cancer control plan.

Read More: Cancer News and Cancer Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.