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The Health Benefits Of Aspirin May Outweigh The Risks

The Health Benefits Of Aspirin May Outweigh The Risks - Forbes

A new study in Annals of Oncology finds that the benefits of daily aspirin may outweigh the risks, at least when it comes to cancers of the digestive tract – bowel, stomach and esophageal. There was a smaller, but appreciable reduction in the risk of heart attack and stroke.

To study the issue, the authors looked back over data from 200 studies assessing the health outcomes of patients who had taken daily aspirin (70-325 mg/day) over the years.

They found that aspirin over 10 years can cut bowel cancer incidence by 35%, and deaths from the disease by 40%. Esophageal and stomach cancers rates were each reduced by 30% – and deaths from these cancers by 50% and 35%, respectively. There was some evidence of a reduction in lung, breast, and prostate cancers, too, but it was weaker.

The risk of heart attack was also reduced by about 18%, as was stroke, albeit to a lesser degree (and deaths from stroke were actually increased).

The team found that it took about three years to see any health benefit of daily aspirin, and ideally, they say, one would take between 75-100 mg for at least five years to reap the fuller effects. Between 50 and 65 years of age, one would need to take aspirin for up to 10 years for it to be the most effective. In fact, the authors calculate that if everyone over 50 took aspirin daily for 10 years, 122,000 deaths might be prevented over a period of two decades.

There was some increased risk of bleeding (from 2.2% to 3.6%), but it was relatively minimal, compared to the positive effect on cancer and cardiovascular risk. It’s not clear if there’s an age after which aspirin would no longer be beneficial.

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And we're talking real aspirin, not ibuprofen. Hard to know anything for sure. 

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