A daily dose of aspirin helps prevent the development of polyps and benign tumours that can lead to colorectal cancer and its reappearance in high-risk patients, two studies published Wednesday show.
Reduction of polyp formation
A seven-year study of 1 100 patients concluded that taking aspirin every day reduces polyp formation by 19 percent, according to researchers at the Dartmouth Medical School in New Hampshire, USA.
A weaker dose of 81 milligrams is more beneficial than the normal adult dose of 325 milligrams, researchers said. A complimentary three-year study on 517 patients who had already received surgery for colorectal cancer showed that a daily dose of 325 milligrams reduced recurrence of polyps by 35 percent.
Regular screenings still important
While underlining the positive results of the study, lead author Dr John Baron said: "Aspirin is not a magic bullet. Although the incidence was reduced, all the polyps didn't go away in our study," he said, advising that, "Regular screenings, perhaps including colonoscopies, are still important."
An author of the second study, Dr Richard Schilsky, a professor of medicine at the University of Chicago said aspirin "had a significant protective effect" on users.
"It clearly reduced the formation of polyps in this study of high-risk individuals, which is good news because it provides a new way to lower the risk of recurrence in patients who have had colon cancer," said Schilsky.
Future studies needed
In an article published in the New England Journal of Medicine alongside the studies, Dr Thomas Imperiale of Indiana University said the role of aspirin in preventing colorectal cancer should be examined further.
And Imperiale said: "Although aspirin may be of some benefit in preventing colorectal cancer, it cannot yet be recommended for this indication and is not a substitute for screening and surveillance."
The trials nonetheless "provide proof of the principle that aspirin moderately reduces the risk of recurrent colorectal neoplasia," he said. – (Sapa-AFP)