No evident impact of regular aspirin on risk for prostate cancer diagnosis

Data in JAMA Oncology, based on a recent analysis of results from the Nurses Health Study and the Health Professionals Follow-up Study, suggest that daily aspirin may lower risk for gastrointestinal cancers (e.g., colon and rectal cancers) but had no significant impact on risk for prostate cancer.

The study data are based on very long-term follow-up of 135,965 health care professionals (88,084 women and 47,881 men, respectively) who reported on their aspirin use every 2 years. The men in the study were all aged between 40 and 75 years in 1986 and were followed through to January 31, 2010.

The recent report by Cao et al. showed that:

  • 7,571 cancers of all types were diagnosed among the 47,881 men.
  • Among those taking regular aspirin in these two studies, total weekly doses were generally between 0.5 and 14 aspirin tablets a week.
  • Regular aspirin use (as compared to non-regular aspirin use) among the male participants only was associated with
    • A 5 percent reduction in risk for cancer of all types (age-adjusted relative risk [aaRR] = 0.95)
    • An 18 percent reduction in risk for gastrointestinal cancers (aaRR = 0.82)
    • A 23 percent reduction in risk for colorectal cancers (aaRR = 0.81)
    • A 3 percent reduction in risk for prostate cancer (aaRR = 0.97)
  • A similar set of results occurred for the female participants (with good impact on gastrointestinal cancers but minimal impact on risk for breast cancer).

Thus, for example, taking low-dose, enteric (coated) aspirin (so-called “baby” aspirin) at a dose of 81 mg/day starting at age 40 or 50 is unlikely to significantly impact a man’s risk for prostate cancer, but it may well have impact on his risk for cardiovascular disorders and gastrointestinal cancers. Of course, one should always be aware that even low-dose, enteric aspirin does come with some risk for gastrointestinal side effects and one should only start such a regimen after discussion with one’s physicians.

One Response

  1. BUT — if you do have prostate cancer, a recent study suggests it may reduce the risk of dying from it … which is why I rake a daily baby aspirin!!

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