What is the association of aspirin use with the risk of colorectal cancer in older adults?
In this pooled analysis of 2 cohort studies with a total of 94 540 participants, regular use of aspirin at or after age 70 years was associated with a lower risk of colorectal cancer compared with nonregular use. However, this reduction in risk was evident only among individuals who initiated use at a younger age.
These results suggest that the initiation of aspirin use at an older age for the sole purpose of primary prevention of colorectal cancer should be discouraged; however, the findings support recommendations to continue using aspirin if initiated at a younger age.
Although aspirin is recommended for the prevention of colorectal cancer (CRC) among adults aged 50 to 59 years, recent data from a randomized clinical trial suggest a lack of benefit and even possible harm among older adults.
To examine the association between aspirin use and the risk of incident CRC among older adults.
Design, Setting, and Participants
A pooled analysis was conducted of 2 large US cohort studies, the Nurses’ Health Study (June 1, 1980–June 30, 2014) and Health Professionals Follow-up Study (January 1, 1986–January 31, 2014). A total of 94 540 participants aged 70 years or older were included and followed up to June 30, 2014, for women or January 31, 2014, for men. Participants with a diagnosis of any cancer, except nonmelanoma skin cancer, or inflammatory bowel disease were excluded. Statistical analyses were conducted from December 2019 to October 2020.
Main Outcomes and Measures
Cox proportional hazards models were used to calculate multivariable adjusted hazard ratios (HRs) and 95% CIs for incident CRC.
Among the 94 540 participants (mean [SD] age, 76.4 [4.9] years for women, 77.7 [5.6] years for men; 67 223 women [71.1%]; 65 259 White women [97.1%], 24 915 White men [96.0%]) aged 70 years or older, 1431 incident cases of CRC were documented over 996 463 person-years of follow-up. After adjustment for other risk factors, regular use of aspirin was associated with a significantly lower risk of CRC at or after age 70 years compared with nonregular use (HR, 0.80; 95% CI, 0.72-0.90). However, the inverse association was evident only among aspirin users who initiated aspirin use before age 70 years (HR, 0.80; 95% CI, 0.67-0.95). In contrast, initiating aspirin use at or after 70 years was not significantly associated with a lower risk of CRC (HR, 0.92; 95% CI, 0.76-1.11).
Conclusions and Relevance
Initiating aspirin at an older age was not associated with a lower risk of CRC in this pooled analysis of 2 cohort studies. In contrast, those who used aspirin before age 70 years and continued into their 70s or later had a reduced risk of CRC.
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Guo C, Ma W, Drew DA, et al. Aspirin Use and Risk of Colorectal Cancer Among Older Adults. JAMA Oncol. Published online January 21, 2021. doi:10.1001/jamaoncol.2020.7338
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