Aspirin, also known as the “Wonder Drug,” now has additional support for that moniker. Three studies were published yesterday in Lancet and Lancet Oncology that demonstrate aspirin’s ability to prevent cancer. Researchers have known that aspirin reduces the long-term risk of death due to cancer, with the strongest evidence for colon cancer. One of the studies provides additional evidence that aspirin reduces the number of cancer cases and cancer deaths in the short-term (within 5 years) as well. That study also found that the risk of major bleeding as a side effect of aspirin use actually decreased with extended use.
The two other studies demonstrated that aspirin prevents distant cancer spread and suggest that aspirin might help in the treatment of some cancers. An editorial that accompanied these articles—co-authored by Dr. Andy Chan, a member of Partnership’s Council on Aspirin for Health and Prevention—stated that this evidence is compelling and concluded that new guidelines for using aspirin cannot separate its benefit in preventing heart attacks and strokes from preventing cancer. Therefore, it’s likely that aspirin for cancer prevention will soon be a recommended clinical preventive service. In light of the recent controversy regarding the benefits and risks of aspirin for preventing cardiovascular disease, this new research adds significant weight to both the benefits of aspirin and that aspirin should be included in the therapeutic arsenal to fight cancer.
Jason Spangler, MD, MPH
Chief Medical Officer