The link between aspirin intake and a lower cancer risk is not a new discovery. But, a recent US study found that aspirin could also protect overweight people from colon cancer.
The link first appeared in 2012, in a research paper that analyzed over 100 studies. The paper published in The Lancet journal showed that "the regular intake of Aspirin could reduce the risk of many types of cancer."
Three years later, another research paper published in the Annals of Oncology journal found that people aged 50 to 65 who consumed Aspirin over 10 years showed a relatively lower risk of cancer – 7 percent in women and 9 percent in men.
However, the recent study published in the American Medical Association journal in December, said aspirin should be taken three times a week, and found that protective effect appears particularly pronounced among people who are overweight.
According to the study authors, low-dose aspirin reduced overall cancer death risk by 15 percent and all-cause death by 19 percent among more than 146,000 people who participated in a cancer screening trial conducted between 1993 and 2008.
Overweight folks also experienced a marked decline in their risk of death from gastrointestinal cancer (28 percent) and colon cancer (34 percent).
In a report published on the institute's website on December 4, Researcher Holli Loomans-Kropp, a cancer prevention fellow with the US National Cancer Institute, said: "Our primary focus was really on colorectal cancer deaths, since there's a lot of evidence to suggest that aspirin use may lower risk of gastrointestinal deaths."
The study results support the standing recommendation of the US Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF), which says people 50 to 59 should take low-dose aspirin to prevent colon cancer if they're not at increased risk for bleeding.
Daily aspirin use as a preventive health measure has become controversial over the past few years, however.
Remarkably, the new study recommended people to take Aspirin three times a week to avoid the negative effects underscored in another US study, which found that excessive intake of aspirin could cause ulcers. The former study carried out by researchers at Harvard University examined data by the National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) in 2017, and found that over half of the US population, aged 70 years and above, who didn't suffer from heart diseases or strokes (around 10 million people), take Aspirin on daily bases to prevent cardiovascular diseases.
In their study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine journal in July, the researchers recommended doctors to ask their patients about their aspirin intake.
Dr. Ali Ezz al-Arab, liver cancer consultant, said people should consult their physician before adopting the new recommendations and taking aspirin three times a week.
"A person should undergo an upper GI endoscopy to determine whether he suffers from gastritis or not, as aspirin intake by people with gastritis could cause ulcers," Ezz al-Arab told Asharq Al-Awsat.
Commenting on the new findings, the liver cancer consultant said: "Overweight people are more likely to develop colon cancer, so they are the most benefiting from the recommendations of this new study."