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Aspirin cuts colon cancer death risk: study
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Health News of Wednesday, 12 August 2009

Source: Reuters

Aspirin cuts colon cancer death risk: study

Taking aspirin not only can help keep colon cancer from coming back, but it also can lower the risk of dying from the disease, U.S. researchers said on Tuesday.

Aspirin already occupies a prominent spot in many medicine cabinets. Daily use of low-dose aspirin can stave off heart attacks and strokes, as well as chase away aches and pains.

Other studies have found it can reduce the risk of developing colon cancer. The latest study, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, shows it can prevent colorectal cancer deaths.

Dr. Andrew Chan of Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School in Boston and colleagues studied aspirin use in 1,279 men and women with colorectal cancer that had not spread to other parts of the body.

They found that people who took aspirin regularly after their diagnosis were nearly 30 percent less likely to die from their cancer than people who did not take aspirin. These people also were 21 percent less likely to die for any reason while they were in the study lasting more than two decades.

"These results suggest that aspirin may influence the biology of established colorectal tumors in addition to preventing their occurrence," Chan said in a statement.

Chan said aspirin likely works by blocking the enzyme cyclooxygenase2, or COX-2, which promotes inflammation and cell division. Many tumors make an abundance of COX-2, he said.

Despite its benefits, aspirin can cause serious bleeding in the stomach. The team said further study in carefully controlled clinical trials should be done before the drug could be recommended for routine use by colon cancer patients.

Colorectal cancer is the second-leading cancer killer in the United States behind lung cancer. It will kill an estimated 50,000 Americans this year, according to the U.S. National Cancer Institute.

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