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Medicine Science

Aspirin Helps Prevent Cancer, New Studies Show 132

kkleiner writes "For years, research has shown that aspirin is beneficial in preventing heart attacks. Now new studies support its ability to prevent cancer as well. The studies, involving tens of thousands of participants over many decades, show reductions of cancer incidence (both short- and long-term) and mortality rate as well as a decrease in metastatic cancer. It still is not known exactly how aspirin and cancer are connected, but those between the ages of 45-50 will now likely consider taking low-dose aspirin daily for the remainder of their lives."
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Aspirin Helps Prevent Cancer, New Studies Show

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  • by cpu6502 ( 1960974 ) on Thursday March 22, 2012 @01:58PM (#39442953)

    I'd rather avoid aspirin and other NSAIDs (like tylenol/acetaminophen).

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 22, 2012 @02:06PM (#39443053)

    Observational studies are almost always behind these news reports. Please ignore them. They don't prove causation. Here's some detailed analysis from the latest "red meat causes x" articles to get an idea why they're so unreliable:

    http://garytaubes.com/2012/03/science-pseudoscience-nutritional-epidemiology-and-meat/ [garytaubes.com]
    http://www.marksdailyapple.com/will-eating-red-meat-kill-you [marksdailyapple.com]
    http://waroninsulin.com/nutrition/is-red-meat-killing-us [waroninsulin.com]

  • by doston ( 2372830 ) on Thursday March 22, 2012 @02:31PM (#39443305)
    Aspirin is already converted to salicylic acid (I think), so you may be better off (study this) with the natural precursor 'Willow Bark', that way the liver converts the substance to salicylic acid and doesn't take a pounding from aspirin. Don't know if it works (obviously), but if I wanted to take aspirin daily, I'd take it that way instead, since it may be kinder and gentler on your system. You can die from other things besides cancer and heart disease...like a failed liver or thin blood.
  • by dbet ( 1607261 ) on Thursday March 22, 2012 @03:09PM (#39443731)
    It's real science, but it's bad science reporting.

    First, the difference reported was small. The largest decrease in risk, in women, was 25%. 3.1 vs 3.9 deaths per 1000 people. That's what 3 years of aspirin is purchasing for you (for men the difference was smaller). This is what people fail to look at whenever it comes to incidence of disease. When something is increased by x% more than y, it's really important what y is.

    Second, are there any negative effects of taking aspirin daily? Maybe? This paper doesn't address this, because it doesn't look for it. So telling the public that daily aspirin is a good idea is short-sighted. It's also medical advice that a single research paper can't really provide.

    Third, I searched around and could only find summaries, so I'm questioning their methodology. But so far I can't find the info I'm looking for. What I'm interested in is the subject selection. Who these people were and where they come from is important. If for example the average age of participants was 70, the advice hold less weight for people who are 20. If all the participants were from the UK, maybe there are factors specific to people from the UK that would invalidate this finding if it were preformed in China.

    I guess what I'm saying is, this one paper shouldn't change anyone's behavior or be considered medical advice.
  • by krotkruton ( 967718 ) on Thursday March 22, 2012 @03:34PM (#39443953)
    I agree with you on a lot of points, but this study was more than just another correlation study like those that link high levels of vitamin D in subjects to reduced risks in cancer. This was a meta-analysis, which is meant to eliminate some of that bias by taking many studies (51 if I read correctly) and weighing them based on their merits and processes to look for statistical significance. Sure, it's not a perfectly executed double blind, but it's still an important study and the results shouldn't just be thrown out.

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