Yes, at least for certain types of cancer! A recent report based on 2 ongoing prospective studies (Nurses’ Health Study and Health Professionals Follow-up Study) assessed the risk of cancer in non-regular and regular users of aspirin at a dose of at least 0.5-1.5 standard tablets (325 mg) per week or a low daily dose of 81 mg. It involved nearly 136,000 subjects while taking into account many potential confounders, including age and cancer screening1.
Compared to non-regular use, aspirin use for at least 6 years was associated with a 3% lower risk of overall cancer, and 15% lower incidence of gastrointestinal cancers, especially colorectal cancers (19% risk reduction); the incidence of breast, advanced prostate or lung cancer was not affected. The irreversible inhibition of cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2), the principle enzyme that produces pro-inflammatory prostaglandins such as prostaglandin E2 (PGE2) found in human colorectal adenomas and carcinomas2, may explain aspirin’s protective effect1.
- Cao Y, Nishihara R, Wu K, et al. The population impact of long-term use of aspirin and risk of cancer. JAMA Oncol 2016;2:762-769
- Greenhough A, Smartt HJM, Moore, et al. The COX-2/PGE2 pathway: key roles in the hallmarks of cancer and adaptation to the tumour microenvironment. Carcinogenesis 2009;30:377-386.
Contributed by Katarzyna Orlewska, Medical Student, Warszawski Uniwersytet Medyczny