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Cancer risk reduction with daily aspirin ‘offsets bleeding risk’

By Nigel Praities

Daily aspirin treatment reduces the risk of death due to cancer by a fifth, according to a major UK analysis published today.

In a meta-analysis of data on cancer survival from 25,000 patients in aspirin trials - published in the Lancet today - the researchers found a 34% reduction in cancer deaths after five years, compared with patients who did not take the drug.

A previous study has shown a reduction in colorectal cancer risk with aspirin, but this is the first study to show that aspirin can reduce the risk of death from brain, lung and pancreatic cancers within five years.

The analysis comes after several recent studies raised major questions over the use of aspirin for the primary prevention of vascular events, but the authors of this study said their results show the reduction in cancer risk with a daily aspirin would offset any risk of non-fatal bleeding complications.

‘The balance of risk and benefit will now be altered by the reduction in cancer deaths after five years treatment. Our analyses show that taking aspirin daily would reduce all-cause mortality (including any fatal bleeds) by around 10%,' said the authors.

Professor Alastair Watson, professor of translational medicine at the University of East Anglia, commented that any patient who wished to take aspirin should consult their GP because of the risk of gastric bleeding, but praised the study as an 'important new development'.

'It is further proof that aspirin is, by a long way, the most amazing drug in the world,' he said.

The use of daily aspirin has been the subject of fierce debate The use of daily aspirin has been the subject of fierce debate