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Study: Aspirin cuts cancer risk

April 30, 2009 12:00:00 AM PDT
There may be even more reason to take aspirin as you age. According to new research published in the journal Lancet Oncology, taking aspirin in your 40's could cut the risk of developing cancer later in life.

Scientists at Cancer Research UK said taking the drug before the cancer develops, and for at least 10 years, could be beneficial.

"Taking aspirin regularly in your mid 40s could maximize the effect this drug has on preventing cancer," said the author of the study, Professor Jack Cuzick from the University of London. "Taking aspirin at this age, which is about the time pre-cancerous lesions usually begin to develop, may be the best time to stop the disease from progressing to actual cancer."

Aspirin blocks the effects of the COX enzymes, or proteins involved in inflammation.

The proteins are found at abnormally high levels in many types of cancers.

Previous research found that people who take aspirin are less likely to develop colon, breast, and other potential cancers.

But doctors don't recommend regular use of the anti-inflammatory drug specifically for cancer prevention, because it has been linked to a number of side-effects like stomach ulcers, and gastrointestinal bleeding in older patients.

"Many questions need to be answered before we would advise regular use of aspirin for cancer prevention," said Cuzick. "Future research and more clinical trials are needed to better identify those people who are at high risk of developing cancers and at low risk of side effects, who will benefit most from aspirin treatment."


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