Cancer may be
rarer in aspirin users than in people who don't use aspirin, doctors note in
the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.
The doctors included Aditya
Bardia, MD, of the internal medicine department at the Mayo College of Medicine
in Rochester, Minn. They studied data on about 22,500 postmenopausal
The women were enrolled in the
Iowa Women's Health Study, a long-term health study of women living in Iowa.
Starting in 1986, they completed surveys periodically about their medical
history, diet, physical activity, smoking, and other factors.
In 1992, the women reported their
use of aspirin and nonaspirin nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
such as ibuprofen.
The women were followed until
2002. During that time, 3,487 women were diagnosed with cancer. Women who
reported ever using aspirin were 16% less likely to be in that
During the follow-up period, 3,581
women died of any cause, including nearly 1,200 cancer deaths and 734 deaths
from heart disease.
Women who reported ever using
aspirin were less likely to die of cancer or heart problems than those who
never used aspirin.
Compared with women who never used
aspirin, aspirin users were 13% less likely to die of cancer, 25% less likely
to die of heart disease, and 18% less likely to die of any cause during the
Nonaspirin NSAIDs, in contrast,
weren't tied cancer or heart disease death rates, for better or
The study was purely
observational, meaning that the researchers didn't directly test aspirin's
ability to counter cancer. The study doesn't pinpoint the best aspirin dose to
If the findings are correct,
aspirin may provide a modest but still important edge against cancer, cancer
deaths, and heart disease deaths, note the researchers.
However, Bardia and
colleaguesB caution that "these potentially positive benefits must be
weighed against the potential risks associated with aspirin use, such as
gastrointestinal bleeding and hemorrhagic (bleeding) stroke."
By Miranda Hitti
Reviewed by Louise Chang
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