Aspiring could cut the chance of dying from bowel cancer by a third, new research has found, adding weight to already documented benefits of aspirin on cancer patients.
Dutch researchers have examined 4,500 bowel cancer patients living in the Netherlands and documented their findings in the British Journal of Cancer. Participating patients took a low dose of the drug each day (80mg or less), which is something that is already recommended for people living with heart disease.
This research adds to a growing bank of data that suggests aspirin could both prevent and treat various forms of cancer. However, researchers have noted that it is too early to start routinely offering it for bowel cancer. There are several side effects associated with aspirin, such as irritation of the stomach lining and internal bleeding in a small amount of cases.
The research findings were based on evidence that has been compiled over almost a decade. A quarter of the patients involved in the study 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.
They found that taking aspirin for anytime after the diagnosis cut the chance of dying from bowel cancer by 23 per cent. Those who took the drug on a daily basis for at least nine months after their diagnosis cut the chance by 30 per cent.
Lead researcher Dr Gerrit-Jan Liefers, of the Leiden University Medical Centre, said: "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.
"It's possible that some older people may have other health problems which mean that they are not well enough to have chemotherapy. Bowel cancer is more common in older people so these results could be a big advance in treatment of the disease, particularly in this group. But we need further research to confirm this."