Daily aspirin intake has long been recommended for the prevention of heart attack and stroke, but can the drug also extend the life expectancy of cancer patients? A new study of 14,000 patients who had cancer of the gastrointestinal tract, found that those patients who regularly took aspirin were two times as likely to be alive after 4 years, compared to those that did not take the drug.
This newest study adds to growing list of purported health benefits of daily aspirin use – last year, aspirin was shown to reduce the risk of developing bowel cancer. The present study was conducted in the Netherlands, and found that men and women with a range of cancer types – including colon, rectal and esophageal cancers – had a significant survival benefit associated with regular aspirin use.
In order to provide evidence that the survival rates could be attributed to aspirin use, the researchers corrected the data for variables, including age, gender, treatment types, stage of cancer and other compounding medical conditions. According to Dr. Martine Frouws from Leiden University in the Netherlands, and the trial coordinator, the results of the study could have “great impact” on patient care and healthcare systems in a number of countries.
“Now we would like to analyze tumor material from these patients to try and discover which ones would benefit from aspirin treatment,” said Frouws. The results were presented at the 2015 European Cancer Congress.
Frouws said, “Through studying the characteristics of tumors in patients where aspirin was beneficial, we should be able to identify patients who could profit from such treatment in the future. Given that aspirin is a cheap, off-patent drug with relatively few side-effects, this will have a great impact on healthcare systems, as well as patients.”
In order to further confirm the results of the study, a randomized clinical trial is currently being conducted to test the effectiveness of an 80mg daily dose of aspirin, on prolonging the lives of patients with bowel cancer. The researchers also plan to conduct a similar randomized clinical trial to test the effects of a low daily dose of aspirin on life expectancy of patients with gastrointestinal cancers.
“We have good evidence that the frequent use of aspirin in the population can prevent some cases of colorectal (bowel) cancer,” said Professor Peter Naredi, scientific co-chair of the congress. “Now, Frouws and colleagues show that in over 13,000 patients who were diagnosed with a gastrointestinal cancer, aspirin also improved survival compared with those who did not use it.”
“With more and more data to support the beneficial role of aspirin, we must consider whether we should recommend it to a wider public,” said Naredi.
- Aspirin ‘may double life expectancy of cancer patients’ – http://www.theguardian.com/society/2015/sep/27/aspirin-double-life-expectancy-cancer-patients-study
- Aspirin a day could dramatically cut cancer risk, says biggest study yet – http://www.theguardian.com/science/2014/aug/06/aspirin-could-dramtically-cut-cancer-risk-say-scientists-biggest-study-yet