By Reg Chapman, WCCO-TV
Researchers say they’ve found major new benefits of a common medicine. They say aspirin can drastically cut cancer deaths.
British researchers say aspirin can be beneficial, but they are cautioning adults to talk to their doctor first. The results of the British study were surprising.
“People who took aspirin were about 20 percent less likely to die from cancer during the trials,” said Oxford University Professor Peter Rothwell.
The research studied more than 25,000 people who took aspirin every day for between four and eight years.
Researchers found the longer patients took aspirin, the more beneficial it became. The benefits were significant — a 10 percent cut in prostate cancer deaths, 30 percent for lung cancer, 40 percent for colorectal cancer and 60 percent for cancer of the esophagus.
Dr. Chrystian Pereira is an assistant professor of pharmacology at the U of M.
“It’s suggesting that people that are taking aspirin might benefit or might not have the same level of cancer reoccurrence,” said Dr. Pereira.
He spoke to WCCO-TV last year about aspirin, its benefits and its side effects.
“Aspirin is a really powerful drug and it can be dangerous too, at the wrong doses,” said Dr. Pereira.
The recommended dosage researchers are looking at is 75 milligrams. That’s just under one-fourth of what you would get in a standard 325 milligram aspirin. “Low dose” tablets intended to reduce the risk of blood clots are typically 81 milligrams.
But experts agree that more research is needed before they can urge healthy people to take it.
“Aspirin has side effects. Aspirin can cause bleeding and other problems, so we do not want to recommend aspirin for our patients across-the-board,” said Dr. Allyson Ocean with New York-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell.
“We have to think now about what’s the best way of advising people and helping people to decide about it,” said Dr. Tom Meade with the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.
Doctors say people between 45 and 50 could benefit most from taking aspirin because that’s when most cancers start to develop.
Dr. Pereira also said aspirin is so strong, he thinks the FDA would make it a prescription drug if it came out now. But it’s so old, it got grandfathered in.
That’s why people shouldn’t start an aspirin regimen without talking to their own doctor first.
WCCO-TV’s Reg Chapman Reports