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Daily aspirin cuts bowel cancer death risk

United Kingdom,Health/Medicine, Thu, 26 Apr 2012 IANS

London, April 26 (IANS) People suffering from bowel cancer who take aspirin daily could cut their chance of dying from the disease by about one-third, a decade-long study has said.


The study in the British Journal of Cancer looked at 4,500 bowel cancer patients living in the Netherlands, BBC reported.


All the bowel patients took a low dose of aspirin -- 80 mg or less a day. This dose is already recommended for people with heart disease.


Evidence suggests aspirin might prevent certain cancers from developing in the first place. Some research also suggest aspirin might work as a cancer therapy -- that slows down or prevents cancer's spread.


But the experts said it was too soon to start routinely offering it for bowel cancer.


The drug can have unpleasant and dangerous side effects, causing irritation of the stomach lining and internal bleeding.


In the study, a quarter of the patients did not use aspirin, a quarter only took aspirin after being diagnosed with bowel cancer, and the remaining half took aspirin both before and after their diagnosis.


Most of the patients on aspirin had been taking it to prevent cardiovascular disease-related problems like heart attack.


It was found that taking aspirin for any length of time after diagnosis cut the chance of dying from bowel cancer by 23 percent.


The patients who took a daily dose of aspirin for at least nine months after their diagnosis cut their chance of dying from the disease by 30 percent.


Taking aspirin only after bowel cancer had been detected had a bigger impact on reducing mortality compared to when aspirin was taken before and after diagnosis -- reducing death risk by 12 percent.


"Our work adds to growing evidence that aspirin not only can prevent cancer from occurring but if it is there it can help prevent it spreading," said lead researcher Gerrit-Jan Liefers, of the Leiden University Medical Centre.


He, however, said aspirin should not be seen as an alternative to other treatments, such as chemotherapy.


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