Aspirin May Reduce Digestive Cancer Risk — But It’s Not for Everyone
A new study summarized past findings of the association between regular aspirin use and a reduction in the risk of colon cancer and other digestive tract cancers.
Researchers concluded that aspirin had been associated with a 22 to 39 percent reduction in the risk of these types of cancers.
Those findings lend further support for the link between regular aspirin use and reduced risk of those cancers.
The research also raises a question, though.
In recent years, there have been increasing warnings that the potential reduction in heart disease risk from taking aspirin regularly may not be worth the potential increased risk of bleeding.
Who should take aspirin?
But more and longer isn’t necessarily better for everyone.
After years of recommendations that daily aspirin could help prevent heart attacks and stroke in people with a higher risk for those cardiovascular issues, research in 2018 and 2019 began to change that opinion.
That research essentially found that while aspirin did provide a reduction in heart disease risk, more people suffered bleeding complications, including in the gastrointestinal tract, due to aspirin than avoided a heart attack or stroke.
The same balancing act between potential benefits and risk needs to be assessed when it comes to cancer and aspirin, experts said.
Aspirin is recommended for certain people with high risk of heart disease or certain cancers.
But a study last year found that nearly a quarter of adults may be taking aspirin daily without a healthcare provider recommendation.
That goes against what the experts recommend.
Guidelines say that adults older than 70 who haven’t had a heart attack as well as people who have a higher bleeding risk shouldn’t take aspirin.
Assessing the risk
To reduce the risk of heart disease and colon cancer, those guidelines recommend daily low doses of aspirin for adults 50 to 59 who have at least a 10 percent risk of a heart attack or stroke within the next 10 years and who aren’t at an increased risk for bleeding.
To determine whether someone is at a higher risk, Jacobs noted that a healthcare provider can evaluate the person’s medical history or use an online risk calculator.
A calculator is available from the American Heart Association and American College of Cardiology.
The USPSTF guidelines state that the cancer-reduction benefits of taking aspirin don’t show up until someone has taken the medication for 5 to 10 years.
Because of that, people older than 60 are less likely to see the benefits if they haven’t already started taken aspirin.