Study Finds Aspirin Reduces Colon Cancer Risk for Most People but Increases for Others

A newly released study found that taking aspirin regularly reduces the risk colorectal cancer. Unless you have one of two relatively common genetic variations, that is. While previous studies have found that regular aspirin intake decreases the chances of colon cancer by roughly 30 percent, the universality of this finding has been thrown into doubt by a recent study funded primarily by the National Institutes of Health.

Researchers compiled observational data from 10 studies spanning the United States, Canada, Germany, and Australia. Overall, regular use of aspirin or other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) was correlated with 17 fewer cases per 100,000 people. However, between 4 percent and 9 percent of people of European ancestry have at least one of the genetic variants that make NSAIDs increase . For one variant, NSAIDs increased the risk of colorectal cancer by 21.1 cases per 100,000. The other increased the odds by 34.7 more cases per 100,000.

Aspirin and other NSAIDs are sometimes prescribed to patients with a history of colon polyps. Dr. Andrew Chan of Massachusetts General Hospital, lead researcher on the report, said that since NSAIDs can have serious potential side effects including gastrointestinal bleeding,

“it’s a high priority to see if we can use genetic information to target preventive interventions for individual patients.”

The study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association presents new evidence in favor of “precision medicine,” under which the genome of individual patients will be used to determine a lifelong treatment strategy. Chan was careful to note that although these findings are encouraging, it is still too early to recommend genetic screenings for the use of NSAIDs to prevent colon cancer without further confirmation.


Read more here – “Aspirin’s colon-cancer benefits backfire for some DNA types,” (Sharon Begley, Reuters)

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