The simple act of taking aspirin once a day may dramatically reduce an individual’s likelihood of dying from cancer, according to a study conducted at the John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford.
The primary focus of the Oxford study was to look at how aspirin affects death rates associated with stroke and heart attack. However, the team also decided to look at how many patients involved in the study eventually died from cancer. Remarkably, a comparison of patients given around 50 mg of aspirin daily and patients given a placebo shows that those given aspirin were 21 percent less likely to die from cancer.
This percentage is based off the participation of 25,570 patients that took part in eight different aspirin-related trials. Each trial lasted for four to eight years. Of all patients who took part in the study, 674 eventually died from cancer.
Interestingly, cancer death rates remained low for aspirin-taking patients long after the trials were completed. Five years after the trials, cancer-related deaths were 35 percent lower for all types of cancer and 54 percent lower for gastrointestinal cancers. After a full 20 years after the completion of the study, results show that aspirin-taking participants still displayed a 20-percent reduction in cancer deaths.
The study also shows that the positive effects of aspirin in relation to cancer take several years to show a measurable advantage. Specifically, it is estimated that aspirin must be take every day over a five-year period to reduce the probability of being diagnosed with lung, brain, pancreatic and esophageal cancers. Positive effects related to stomach and colorectal cancer require ten years of daily intake and prostate cancer requires 15 years.
Scientists are as of yet unclear as to how aspirin may help ward off cancer. However, it has been proposed that the medicine may inhibit specific enzyme functions that spur tumor growth.
Though researchers stop short of recommending the daily use of aspirin for everyone, they do suggest it may be helpful for some individuals. Through the research, it was found that taking aspirin doses above 75 mpg daily does not result in added health benefits. However, it was determined that individuals in their 40s and 50s responded most effectively to the effects of daily aspirin consumption.
Though the potential benefits of a daily aspirin may spur some to begin a daily regimen, it should be noted that the risk of internal bleeding increases with frequent aspirin consumption.