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Aspirin can block bowel cancer

28th October 2011

A study has found that people with a hereditary condition could significantly reduce their risk of bowel cancer by taking aspirin.

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Researchers from Newcastle University studied 861 people with Lynch Syndrome, which affects about 60,000 people in the UK.

Lynch Syndrome can raise the risk of bowel cancer and causes sufferers to develop it when they are younger than people without the condition.

One half of the group were given two aspirins a day for two years, while the others took a placebo.

The team said people who took aspirin were 63% less likely to develop bowel cancer than the placebo group.

Professor Sir John Burn from Newcastle University, who headed the team, said: "What we have finally shown is that aspirin has a major preventive effect on cancer but it doesn't become apparent until years later."

He added that if Lynch Syndrome patients started taking aspirin today "we would stop about 10,000 cancers over 30 years".

However he said there would be ramifications if people took aspirin: "on the other hand, this would cause around 1,000 ulcers. If we can prevent 10,000 cancers in return for 1,000 ulcers and 100 strokes, in most people's minds that's a good deal, especially if you've grown up in a family with three, four, five, six people who have had cancer."

The research supports a previous study carried out by Professor Peter Rothwell from Oxford University, who discovered people who took 75mg of aspirin a day were 25% less likely to develop the disease after 20 years.

Cancer Research UK's Prof Chris Paraskeva said: "This adds to the growing body of evidence showing the importance of aspirin, and aspirin-like drugs, in the fight against cancer." 

 

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