Aspirin may significantly reduce incidence of GI cancers

By John Murphy, MDLinx
Published November 2, 2017

Key Takeaways

People on long-term aspirin therapy had fewer gastrointestinal (GI) cancers than those who weren't on aspirin, researchers from Hong Kong reported at an October 30 presentation during the 25th United European Gastroenterology (UEG) Week in Barcelona, Spain.

In a study of more than 600,000 patients, those who were on aspirin for at least 6 months (although the average duration was more than 7 years) showed a 47% lower incidence of liver and esophageal cancer, a 38% lower incidence of gastric cancer, a 34% lower incidence of pancreatic cancer, and a 24% lower incidence of colorectal cancer.

“The findings demonstrate that the long-term use of aspirin can reduce the risk of developing many major cancers,” said lead researcher Kelvin Tsoi, BSc, PhD, research associate professor, Chinese University of Hong Kong, China. “What should be noted is the significance of the results for cancers within the digestive tract, where the reductions in cancer incidence were all very substantial, especially for liver and esophageal cancer.”

For this study, Dr. Tsoi and colleagues reviewed data obtained from all public hospitals in Hong Kong between 2000 and 2004 on a total of 618,884 patients, including 206,295 aspirin users (mean age: 67.5 years) and 412,589 non-aspirin users (mean age: 67.6 years). The median dose of aspirin prescribed was 80 mg, with an average duration of 7.7 years. Patients' outcomes were collected for up to 14 years until 2013.

Of 618,884 subjects, 15.9% were diagnosed with cancer. Lung cancer was the most common, occurring in 4.07% of patients overall.

Subjects with long-term aspirin use had a 24% to 47% lower incidence of major cancers in the GI tract. These cancers included:

• colorectal (OR: 0.76, 95% CI: 0.73 to 0.78)
• liver (OR: 0.53, 95% CI: 0.51 to 0.56)
• esophageal (OR: 0.53, 95% CI: 0.49 to 0.59)
• pancreatic (OR: 0.66, 95% CI: 0.60 to 0.71)
• stomach (OR: 0.62, 95% CI: 0.58 to 0.65)

Among non-GI cancers, long-term aspirin use showed lower incidence only in leukemia (OR: 0.76), lung (OR: 0.65), and prostate cancers (OR: 0.86), but not in breast (OR: 0.96), bladder (OR: 0.97), kidney (OR: 1.04), and multiple myeloma cancers (OR: 0.90).

“Long-term use of aspirin can reduce the major types of GI cancers, but the benefits are limited to some other non-GI cancers, such as breast and kidney,” Dr. Tsoi and colleagues concluded.

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