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Aspirin stops colon cancer, but may trigger bleeding

New blood test helps determine safety of drug therapy.



24 August, 2005: Aspirin use in long term may help ward off colon cancer, but it may require high doses, but such high aspirin doses may trigger gastro-intestinal bleeding.

Studies which have been conducted before have proven that those with colon polyps or cancer could prevent recurrence of cancer by taking aspirin regularly. The latest study on cancer has been conducted by researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital and Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston. 

The study came from the Nurses' Health Study that has followed more than 120,000 female registered nurses since the mid-1970s.

Some patients use "baby" aspirin, to check cardiovascular diseases, which is one-fourth the dose of regular daily aspirin dosage.

Dr Andrew Chan of Massachusetts General Hospital commented: "The study found a protective effect of long-term aspirin use on risk of invasive colorectal cancer, but only at dosage levels considerably higher than those used to prevent cardiovascular disease."

The study found that among women, the maximum benefit from full-strength aspirin was 53% less risk of contracting colon cancer among who consumed over 14 tablets per week for over a decade. The reduction in cancer risk reduced along with aspirin dose -- disease risk was cut by 22 percent for those taking between six and 14 tablets a week.

The researchers said that but for every one or two cases of cancer prevented by taking high doses of aspirin, eight people would develop serious gastrointestinal bleeding.

Yet, the cancer researchers have refused to recommend the use of painkillers to offset colon cancer.

Aspirin and other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs other than acetaminophen appear to lower the risk of colon polyps, at least in part, by inactivating the COX-2 enzyme that involves inflammation and may stimulate tumor development, the researchers said.

There are expected to be 145,000 new U.S. cases of colon cancer diagnosed this year and 56,000 deaths from the disease, second only to lung cancer as the leading cause of cancer death.

The American Cancer Society is against using aspirin for preventing colon cancer because it entails a bleeding risk.



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