2 aspirins a day keep cancers away: Study

The results of the 10-year-long study were published in the medical journal The Lancet on Friday.

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AHMEDABAD: Aspirin, usually taken for conditions such as pain, fever or inflammation, can also reduce the risk of colorectal and endometrial (bowel or colon, rectal, stomach and womb) cancers in persons with Lynch syndrome. The results of the 10-year-long study were published in the medical journal The Lancet on Friday.

The study, ‘Cancer prevention with aspirin in hereditary colorectal cancer (Lynch syndrome), 10-year follow-up and registry-based 20-year data in the CAPP2 study: A double-blind, randomised, placebo-controlled trial’, led by Prof Sir John Burn and Prof D Timothy Bishop from the UK, had data analysis by Dr Harsh Sheth from Ahmedabad.

Persons with Lynch syndrome are at high risk of developing cancer, the researchers said. They summarized the findings saying that if a person with Lynch syndrome, which is found in one of every 200 persons, takes two aspirins a day for an average of two and a half years, it reduces cancer risk by half. The payoff is also huge and even when the person stops taking the medicine, the effects can be felt for up to 20 years.

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Prof Burn from Newcastle University, told TOI that his interest in the effects of aspirin started in 1996, when he began to assess its cancer prevention effects. “It was a randomized controlled trial. The study was followed up to ascertain the effects of aspirin and data was collected for 20 years. The results were surprising,” he said.

The randomized doubleblind trial covered 861persons with Lynch Syndrome at 43 places across the globe. They were given 600mg of aspirin or a placebo every day for two years, and were followed up with annually. Earlier, the patients were followed up with for five years to see the effects, the findings of which were published in 2011.

“The data shows that among those who took aspirin for two years, there were 50% fewer bowel cancers,” said Dr Sheth, associated with the FRIGE’s Institute of Human Genetics. “Aspirin also reduced the risk of all Lynch syndrome cancers combined by about 37% in those patients.”

How does the study affect the Indian population? Prof Burn said India has comparatively lower risk factors such as consumption of red meat and obesity. “But with the changing socio-economic profile of the population, India could have higher incidence of cancer in the future,” he said. “Aspirin is an over-the-counter and low-cost drug which can reduce costs and the burden on the healthcare system.”

Dr Sheth leads an ongoing study to detect prevalence of Lynch Syndrome in colorectal cancer patients in India. The study is funded by the Gujarat State Biotech Mission.

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