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Aspirin May Protect Against Cancer

Effects on cancer incidence only seen after 10 years

FRIDAY, March 27 (HealthDay News) -- People who take aspirin for vascular protection have less incidence of cancer, but only after 10 years of taking the drug, indicating that it may have a protective effect against cancer, according to a review published online March 27 in The Lancet.

Peter C. Elwood, M.D., of Cardiff University in Cardiff, U.K., and colleagues conducted a review of trials and observational studies on the vascular protective effects of aspirin, to ascertain what effects the drug may have had on cancer incidence in the study cohorts.

The investigators found that three randomized trials showed reduced risk of cancer among those taking aspirin, including reduced incidence of lung cancer by between 18 percent and 36 percent. An observational study concluded that current female aspirin users may have a significant reduction in cancer deaths after 10 years' use, while another showed an association between declining overall cancer incidence and aspirin use in men, the researchers note.

"Evidence of benefit in such diverse studies could be suggestive of a true effect on carcinogenesis. However, this consistency could also be affected by unknown lifestyle, dietary or other factors," the authors write. "Aspirin is prone to undesirable side-effects, in particular bleeding, and development of a safer form of aspirin, or a drug combination, should be urgently undertaken to improve the risk-benefit balance."

The lead author reports having received lecture fees from Bayer.

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