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Low-dose aspirin to reduce cancer risk
Old 08-11-2014, 11:46 AM   #1
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Low-dose aspirin to reduce cancer risk

I came across reports of a recent study that re-affirms the strong evidence that daily low-dose aspirin reduces the risk of GI cancers (colon, stomach, esophogeal, etc). I did a quick search and there's a lot of evidence for aspirin's efficacy in reducing other cancer deaths, to include those from melanoma, liver cancer, and lung cancer. The reductions aren't small, they are significant--over 30% in many cases. This was news to me.

A "popular literature" review of some key findings is here: People's Pharmacy

Obviously, taking any medication has risks, aspirin is known to cause stomach bleeding in some people, etc. But since my doc already suggested I take a daily low-dose aspirin (a common recommendation for men over 45, to reduce heart attacks), I'm getting this cancer protection "for free." Obviously, discuss this with a medical professional before changing anything.

Anyway, something to think about. About $5 per year for the aspirin (81 mg/day) and quite a few benefits.
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Old 08-11-2014, 11:51 AM   #2
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Originally Posted by samclem View Post
I came across reports of a recent study that re-affirms the strong evidence that daily low-dose aspirin reduces the risk of GI cancers (colon, stomach, esophogeal, etc). I did a quick search and there's a lot of evidence for aspirin's efficacy in reducing other cancer deaths, to include those from melanoma and lung cancer. The reductions aren't small, they are significant--over 30% in many cases. This was news to me.
A "popular literature" review of some key findings is here: People's Pharmacy
Obviously, taking any medication has risks, aspirin is known to cause stomach bleeding in some people, etc. But since my doc already suggested I take a daily low-dose aspirin (a common recommendation for men over 45, to reduce heart attacks), I'm getting this cancer protection "for free." Obviously, discuss this with a medical professional before changing anything.
Anyway, something to think about. About $5 per year for the aspirin (81 mg/day) and quite a few benefits.


$5 a YEAR? Which brand of low dose aspirin are buying that cheap?

Mike
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Old 08-11-2014, 11:55 AM   #3
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$5 a YEAR? Which brand of low dose aspirin are buying that cheap?

Mike
No brand--the generic Kroger stuff. 500 tablet bottle was about $7, IIRC.
Here they are at Walmart online: 500 count for $6.
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Old 08-11-2014, 12:06 PM   #4
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No brand--the generic Kroger stuff. 500 tablet bottle was about $7, IIRC.

I know the generic "safety coated" low dose aspirin at Sam's or Costco is considerably cheaper but I had read a few articles that said: "Equivalent doses of the enteric-coated aspirin were not as effective as plain aspirin". Everywhere I have looked low dose plain aspirin it was rather expensive. I'm not a doctor (but I did stay at a Holiday Inn Express recently). Any other comments on this subject?

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Old 08-11-2014, 03:13 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by wrigley View Post
I had read a few articles that said: "Equivalent doses of the enteric-coated aspirin were not as effective as plain aspirin".
Not as effective for what?
Aspirin has a very wide range of uses.
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Old 08-12-2014, 05:36 AM   #6
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Not as effective for what?
Aspirin has a very wide range of uses.

This article talks about taking low dose aspirin daily to help prevent heart attacks.

Enteric-coated aspirin is less potent than plain aspirin

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Old 08-12-2014, 08:59 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by wrigley View Post
This article talks about taking low dose aspirin daily to help prevent heart attacks.

Enteric-coated aspirin is less potent than plain aspirin
It is a small study, but for the effect they are measuring (related to inhibition of blood clotting), the enteric-coated aspirin do seem to produce less of an impact. Thanks for posting that.
Three observations:
1) It's possible that the suppression of clotting by the enteric-coated aspirin is still sufficient.
2) There's no telling if the mode of operation for aspirin's indicated anti-cancer properties would be affected in the same way as the anti-clotting properties. Maybe the enteric-coated aspirin is just as effective for this purpose.
3) It would seem that the enteric coating would be easy to defeat, and doing that might be easier and cheaper than finding/buying "plain" low-dose tablets. Just split the enteric-coated pills and take both halves (it might take 30 minutes to split 500 of 'em with a pill splitter).
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Old 08-12-2014, 06:18 PM   #8
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The FDA has just recommended to stop taking aspirin. The bad side effects out way any good.
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Old 08-12-2014, 06:24 PM   #9
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The FDA has just recommended to stop taking aspirin. The bad side effects out way any good.
Do you have a source or link for more details?
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Old 08-12-2014, 06:25 PM   #10
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The FDA has just recommended to stop taking aspirin. The bad side effects out way any good.
That's strictly for use to prevent a first heart attack in people who have never had cardiovascular disease. They aren't recommending NOT taking aspirin, but are saying:

Quote:
"Since the 1990s, clinical data have shown that in people who have experienced a heart attack, stroke or who have a disease of the blood vessels in the heart, a daily low dose of aspirin can help prevent a re-occurrence," Temple said in a statement on the FDA website.
But the agency added that "after carefully examining scientific data from major studies, FDA has concluded that the data do not support the use of aspirin as a preventive medication by people who have not had a heart attack, stroke or cardiovascular problems, a use that is called 'primary prevention.'"
The FDA said that in these people "the benefit has not been established but risks - such as dangerous bleeding into the brain or stomach - are still present."
FDA questions use of aspirin to prevent first heart attack | Reuters
http://www.fda.gov/ForConsumers/Cons.../ucm390539.htm


It's one of those 'do the benefits outweigh the risks' issues.
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Old 08-12-2014, 07:18 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by M Paquette View Post
That's strictly for use to prevent a first heart attack in people who have never had cardiovascular disease. They aren't recommending NOT taking aspirin, but are saying:

FDA questions use of aspirin to prevent first heart attack | Reuters
Can an Aspirin a Day Help Prevent a Heart Attack?


It's one of those 'do the benefits outweigh the risks' issues.
I wonder if those studies took into account other possible benefits, like the possible reduced cancer risk talked about here - or did they only look at other cardiovascular related issues?

To paraphrase another sig: 'Studies is hard!'.


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Old 08-12-2014, 07:37 PM   #12
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I wonder if those studies took into account other possible benefits, like the possible reduced cancer risk talked about here - or did they only look at other cardiovascular related issues?

To paraphrase another sig: 'Studies is hard!'.
Overall mortality is becoming more and more of an issue in these studies that claim a medicine or substance prevents some malefactor of health. . What's the point of avoiding disease A if one get's disease B which is more likely to kill you than A?

More to the point, is it good medicine to medicate large segments of the population who are otherwise healthy? It may be good business, but is it good medicine?
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Old 08-12-2014, 07:57 PM   #13
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More to the point, is it good medicine to medicate large segments of the population who are otherwise healthy? It may be good business, but is it good medicine?
Well, there has been no evolutionary pressure for our bodies to last longer than about 40 years. Throughout most of human existence, the vast majority of people died by about 1/2 that age, and very, very few made it to 40. Infection, starvation, predators, accidents--they killed people long before their bodies were worn out.

Now we die of all the modern things our bodies aren't adapted to. Modern medicine (and even more important, sewers and clean water) keep us alive until our bodies fall apart: blood vessels harden/clog, our cells get old, senesce, and become cancerous. If we want our bodies to last longer than the age they were "designed" for, then maybe we need take active measures: Brush our teeth (that's not natural), eat less than our appetite demands, engage in exercise in our older years, maybe eat an aspirin, take Vitamin D, or take other steps to give ourselves an edge--to help our "designed to last until 40" bodies a chance to last twice that long. Living this long is "artificial" in the first place, the "natural" thing to do is to die at about 25.

About the "good business" thing (and I know yours was a general comment, not just about aspirin): Ironically, the "business" side of things is one reason aspirin's value may be underappreciated. It's obviously off patent and very cheap, so no drug company is interested in funding research into its efficacy for cancer prevention. Luckily, there have been some good studies funded by several governments.
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Low cost;low risk;good chance of benefit
Old 08-12-2014, 09:40 PM   #14
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Low cost;low risk;good chance of benefit

At least for middle age and older men there are multiple studies that support low dose aspirin use. Unless you have GI problems from the use of aspirin there seems to be no reason not to give it a try since aspirin is very inexpensive. Some recent studies show smaller benefit for women.
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Old 08-13-2014, 04:37 PM   #15
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I've been taking the low dose for years as a heart attack/stroke preventer. Hadn't heard that it may also prevent cancer.
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Old 08-13-2014, 06:15 PM   #16
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After taking low dose aspirin for the last 15 years or so (I'm 63 no heart issues so far) my doctor told me I could stop taking it since the latest research showed it to be of no apparent help if one hasn't had heart issues. I've decided that since it doesn't seem to hurt (so far) I will continue taking it. This seems to be sort of like the coffee research one study says it will kill you, the next says it's greatest thing .
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Old 08-13-2014, 06:33 PM   #17
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What percent of regular low dose aspirin users develop stomach bleeding?
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Old 08-13-2014, 07:27 PM   #18
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Taking an aspirin for a long period of time might not be a good idea
Aspirin overdose: MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia
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Old 08-13-2014, 07:28 PM   #19
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Sam's club twin pack 365 each bottle, $5.82 for two years.
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Old 08-13-2014, 08:55 PM   #20
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What percent of regular low dose aspirin users develop stomach bleeding?
From this article:
Quote:
People 60 years old who take daily aspirin for 10 years have an increased risk of stomach bleeding of about 3.6 percent. Bleeding could be life-threatening in less than 5 percent of people who develop bleeding, the researchers noted.
The risk of serious bleeding, however, increases dramatically after age 70. Cuzick recommends that people 70 and older not start taking aspirin to prevent cancer because of this increased risk.
Peptic ulcers are another side effect of aspirin. The studies the authors reviewed cited an increased risk of 30 to 60 percent for these stomach lesions.
Peptic ulcers: A 30-60% increase doesn't mean much without knowing the baseline prevalence/incidence. More on that here. It looks like about 1.36% annually, and a lifetime risk of 1 in 10.

For perspective-- The lifetime risks of some of the cancers mentioned in the aspirin articles in the OP and in this post:

Colorectal: Men 1:20 Women 1:22 (approx 2/3rds are colon cancer)
Esophogeal: Men 1:125 Women 1:435
Stomach: Men 1:93 Women 1:149
Lung: Men: 1:13 Women 1:16
Melanoma of the skin Men 1:39 Women 1:63

From this article (previously linked in the OP)
Quote:
When researchers review lots of aspirin trials they come up with the same result over and over. An analysis involved more than 50 clinical trials designed to determine if aspirin could prevent heart attacks and strokes. Nearly 80,000 subjects were included, and those assigned to take aspirin had 15 percent fewer deaths from cancer. They also experienced protection from heart attacks and strokes.
If that is even close to being right (and maybe it's not): a 15% reduction in overall cancer risk (approx 40% of people will get cancer in their lives) in exchange for a 30-60% increase in the chance for peptic ulcers (approx 10% of people have that in their lives)--well, I guess people can make their own choices.

Obviously, don't take aspirin daily without talking to your doctor , etc, etc.
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