Aspirin prevents many cancers, research shows

Aspirin can prevent several types of cancer, research has shown.

Aspirin has been shown to prevent colon cancer, but now research published in The Lancet suggested it can prevent deaths from several other types of cancer as well.

Researchers led by Peter M Rothwell of the University of Oxford found daily aspirin reduced deaths due to several common cancers including oesophageal, pancreatic, brain and lung cancer.

The team studied patient data from eight clinical trials involving aspirin. In a meta-analysis of the data, researchers showed aspirin reduced by 20% a patient’s overall risk of death from cancer. This was due mainly to a 34% reduction in cancer deaths after five years.

This protection generally took five years to become apparent and was more delayed for stomach, colorectal and prostate cancer. The effect was generally still evident across many cancers 20 years after treatment.

The protective effect increased with duration of treatment. But researchers found the effect did not appear to increase at aspirin doses greater than 75mg daily.

Researchers concluded that aspirin should be considered in place of other antiplatelet treatment as it can also reduce cancer risk.

They added it may prove very cost effective and would ‘exceed that of established initiatives such as screening for breast or prostate cancer’.

Professor Alastair Watson, of the University of East Anglia, said: 'This study provides strong evidence that taking regular aspirin for more than five years can help prevent development of a number of other forms of cancer, including lung, pancreas, oesophageal and prostate cancers.  It also indicates that the longer aspirin is taken for, the greater the benefit.

But he added: 'It is important that people know aspirin can cause dangerous bleeding in the stomach in some patients. As a consequence some patients are not able to take aspirin, and people wishing to take aspirin should first discuss it with their GP.'

Have you registered with us yet?

Register now to enjoy more articles and free email bulletins


Already registered?

Sign in

Just published

GP on phone in recorded consultation assessment

Consultation skills to help GP trainees pass the RCA

Dr Afsar Rizvi highlights the key skills GP trainees need to master in order to pass...

Wes Streeting

Labour promises same GP 'each appointment' and face-to-face access if patients want it

A Labour government would offer patients the chance to see 'the same doctor each...

Man wearing mask on train

UK faces serious threat from flu and COVID-19 'twindemic' this winter

There are strong indications the UK faces a dangerous 'twindemic' of COVID-19 and...

NHS sign outside a building

PCN contract overhaul defers two-week appointment target until April 2023

NHS England has announced changes to the network contract DES, including deferring...


NHS sets out priorities for extra GP funding this winter

Integrated care boards could target extra funding for general practice at phone systems,...

Shadow chancellor Rachel Reeves

Labour promises to double medical school places with tax cut reversal

A Labour government would double medical school places with funding raised from reversing...