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Studies Link Daily Doses of Aspirin to Reduced Risk of Cancer (April 26, 2012)

British researchers discovered that taking a baby aspirin everyday reduces the risk of developing certain cancers and prevents the disease from spreading. Prescribed by millions of physicians to prevent heart attacks or strokes, daily aspirin dosing shows even more promise as a cancer preventative. Studies indicate that aspirin's protective effects increase over time, offering greater protection the longer patients use the over-the-counter medication. Experiencing gastrointestinal bleeding is the greatest risk of using aspirin daily, but scientists learned that the risk of this side effect decreases in time.

In the last decade, Oxford University professor Peter Rothwell, and colleagues, have been studying the miraculous properties of the inexpensive medication commonly used by millions of people everyday. Many consider Dr. Rothwell to be one of the leading aspirin researchers in the world. His findings suggest that the widely available formulation exhibits powerful effects against cancer, but that many physicians frequently overlook aspirin's potential. Physician's main concern with prescribing aspirin on a daily basis evolves around the possibility of developing internal bleeding.

The long-term studies performed by Oxford University included tens of thousands of female and male test subjects. Scientists discovered that after taking aspirin daily for three years the risk of developing cancer dropped by 25 percent. This number increased to 37 percent for individuals taking aspirin daily for five years. Later research evaluated more large randomized groups. Scientists learned that after taking daily aspirin for more than six years, the number of metastatic cancer cases decreased anywhere from 36 to 46 percent of the time. Dr. Peter M. Rothwell and associates published their findings in the medical journal known as "The Lancet."

The adenocarcinomas are the cancer types most affected by daily aspirin dosages. Adenocarcinomas form tumors in gland tissue or develop tumors that appear and function similar to glandular tissue. Abdominal, colorectal and breast cancer represent some types of adenocarcinomas. Prostate and some lung cancers also fit into this category of malignancy.

Studies indicate that daily aspirin doses reduced the numbers of colorectal cancers in susceptible individuals by as much as 50 percent. Aspirin reduced the risk of developing esophageal cancer by 75 percent.

Associate professor at the Harvard School of Medicine, Dr. Andrew T. Chan believes the research heightens the level of excitement concerning daily aspirin use as a possible chemopreventative medication. Not only are some adenocarcinomas difficult to diagnose, but many produce metastasis, which is a leading cause of death in cancer patients. Given the results found by Oxford University, some physicians might encourage the use of daily aspirin doses for individuals with a family history of adenocarcinomas.

Many other physicians remain skeptical concerning daily aspirin use because of the possibility of developing life-threatening side effects that include internal bleeding. However, numerous physicians feel the cancer protective qualities of aspirin far outweigh possible side effects. Health care providers often treat gastrointestinal and other types of chronic bleeding by prescribing medications. Some patients may require reparative surgery.

Aspirin interferes with the production of thromboxane, a prostaglandin released by blood platelets when bleeding occurs. Without this substance, blood platelets cannot stick together and form clots. Through continued research, scientists at Oxford University found that the risk of developing life-threatening internal bleeding in the gastrointestinal region, or other areas of the body, begins diminishing after the third year of taking daily doses. Researchers report that the risk of bleeding continues diminishing every year until the occurrence rate compares to patients not taking daily aspirin.

At Oxford University, aspirin research continues in attempts at answering additional questions. Scientists remain in the dark as to when high-risk patients should start daily aspirin dosing. They do not know at what age aspirin offers the most protective benefits with the least amount of potential side effects. Researchers are also still striving to understand what demographics of the population benefit most from daily aspirin use. Physicians also wonder if particular portions of the population might be at the greatest risk for developing adverse reactions.

Health Testing Centers offer cancer screenings for adenocarcinomas cancer types including prostate, lung, abdominal, colorectal and breast cancer. Testing and preventative measures such as a low dose aspirin are some of best tools in the fight against cancer.