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Long-term Aspirin Use Linked to Reduced Risk for Several Cancers, Study Finds

Written by Andrew Le, MD

UpdatedApril 26, 2024

A comprehensive research study, spanning two decades, delves into the effects of long-term aspirin use on cancer risk. The Danish nationwide cohort study, spearheaded by Charlotte Skriver (MSc, PhD) and colleagues, brings new insights into the association between aspirin use and various cancers beyond the well-established link to colorectal cancer prevention.

The study, published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute [JNCI 2024, 116(4), 530–538], meticulously followed over 1.9 million individuals aged 40-70 years from 1997 through 2018, tracking cancer diagnoses and aspirin use patterns.

Key findings revealed that consistent low-dose aspirin use did not offer overall cancer risk reduction. However, an intriguing pattern emerged—long-term aspirin use of 5 years or more was linked to decreased risks for numerous specific cancers, such as those found in the colon, rectum, esophagus, stomach, liver, pancreas, and small intestine. Similar beneficial patterns were also found for non-gastrointestinal cancers including melanoma, thyroid cancer, meningioma (a type of brain tumor), non-Hodgkin lymphoma, and leukemia.

On the flip side, the study observed increased risk estimates for lung and bladder cancer regardless of the aspirin dose or duration of use, departing from conventional expectations. Additionally, high-dose aspirin use conveyed a similar overall trend with a 10% decrease in the risk of cancer, corroborating low-dose aspirin's properties.

While the study emphasizes that extended aspirin use does not seem to affect the overall incidence of cancer, the detailed analyses shine a light on aspirin's potential as a preventive measure for various cancer types.

For a more in-depth look at the study’s methodologies and findings, the full article is available at JNCI.

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Skriver, C., Maltesen, T., Dehlendorff, C., Skovlund, C. W., Schmidt, M., Sørensen, H. T., & Friis, S. (2024). Long-term aspirin use and cancer risk: a 20-year cohort study. JNCI: Journal of the National Cancer Institute, 116(4), 530-538.