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The World in Medicine
January 19, 2011

Aspirin Cuts Cancer Risk

JAMA. 2011;305(3):243. doi:10.1001/jama.2010.1931

Daily use of low-dose aspirin reduces the risk of death from several common cancers, report investigators at the University of Oxford and other UK centers (Rothwell PM et al. Lancet. doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(10)62110-1 [published online ahead of print December 6, 2010]).

The researchers studied deaths from all types of cancer that occurred during and after 8 randomized trials assessing effects of daily use of aspirin vs no aspirin use. These trials, which were designed originally to look at the use of aspirin to prevent vascular events, included a total of 25 570 patients, with a mean duration of aspirin use of longer than 4 years. Aspirin use reduced the risk of death due to cancer by 21% during the trials, with benefits apparent after 5 years of follow-up (a decrease of about 34% for all cancer deaths and 54% for gastrointestinal tract cancers). Long-term follow-up of patients from 3 large trials showed that the reduction in cancer deaths was maintained for 20 years.