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Research shows aspirin reduces risk of colon cancer

by Kelly MacNeil on October 22, 2010

Taking regular low-doses of aspirin can reduce the number of colon cancer by a quarter and cut colon related cancer deaths by a third, according to research published yesterday in the medical journal The Lancet.

Professor Peter Rothwell, of John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford, studied the cases of 14,000 people who were treated with aspirin an average of six years. He found that baby doses of aspirin reduced the risk of developing colon cancer by 24 percent.

Additionally, for those who developed colorectal cancer and took the small dosage, the risk of dying from the condition was reduced by 35 percent.

Prior research from the same group in Oxford had shown that a high-dosage of aspirin could prevent colon cancer but adverse effects limited its potential. Side effects of such a high dose included irritation to the stomach, intestines and bowel, causing lesions and major bleeding, according to CBS News.

In light of such side effects experts warn people who are not at a high risk for the disease from taking the drug, reports the Associated Press.

Scientists, according to The Daily Telegraph, believe aspirin’s cancer-fighting potential works by inhibiting production of a certain enzyme that promotes cell proliferation in colorectal tumors.

Daily dosages of aspirin have also been shown to reduce the risk of cardiovascular events such as heart attacks and stroke, according to EMaxHealth.com.

In the U.S., experts encourage patients to get a colonoscopy that can detect the pre-cancerous growths called polyps so doctors can remove them before they form a tumor, according to Reuters. However, patients are often reluctant to get what can be an uncomfortable and embarrassing medical test.

In 2006, over 70,000 men and over 68,000 women were diagnosed with colorectal cancer in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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