-- Alan Mozes
MONDAY, April 4 (HealthDay News) -- Taking aspirin even once per
month, whether low-dose or full strength, appears to be associated
with a marked drop in the risk of developing pancreatic cancer, new
Specifically, taking full-strength aspirin once monthly was
linked to a 26 percent reduction in the risk of pancreatic cancer.
Taking low-dose aspirin, to reduce the risk of heart disease, was
associated with an even greater drop (35 percent lower) in
pancreatic cancer risk.
The findings, from a team led by Dr. Xiang-Lin Tan, a research
fellow at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., are slated for
presentation Monday at the annual meeting of the American
Association for Cancer Research, in Orlando, Fla.
"This provides additional evidence that aspirin may have chemoprevention activity against pancreatic cancer," Tan said in a news release from the association.
But, he cautioned, "the results are not meant to suggest
everyone should start taking aspirin once monthly to reduce their
risk of pancreatic cancer. Individuals should discuss use of
aspirin with their physicians because the drug carries some side
To explore the protective potential of aspirin, the
investigators focused on 904 pancreatic cancer patients and just
over 1,220 healthy individuals, all of whom were seen at the Mayo
Clinic between 2004 and 2010.
All of the study participants were at least 55. Questionnaires
were completed to assess aspirin use between the ages of 41 and 60,
as well as the use of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
Using aspirin at least once per month was linked to a
significant drop in pancreatic cancer risk, the research team
concluded, even after accounting for other factors that might
affect the finding, such as body-mass index and smoking
Those who had once smoked but kicked the habit seemed to
experience an even stronger protective effect with respect to
aspirin use than those who had never smoked or those who continued
to smoke, the study authors noted.
NSAID and acetaminophen use did not, however, have any
noticeable impact on pancreatic cancer risk, the authors added.
Dr. Michael Choti, a professor of surgery and oncology with the
Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center at Johns Hopkins
University in Baltimore, expressed little surprise with the
"There have been other preclinical findings suggesting that there may be some role for aspirin in inhibiting carcinogenesis, including pancreatic carcinogenesis," Choti noted. "And in other cancers, such as colon cancer, aspirin use has been associated with a reduction in cancer risk."
However, "studies that are not randomized trials are fraught
with biases," he cautioned. "Those taking aspirin for a variety of
reasons, say for cardiac or other cancer-protective effects, may
generally have a better lifestyle, smoke less, eat better, exercise
more. So one cannot purely conclude from this kind of study as to
whether they are finding a general association between people who
take aspirin, or in fact a true causative effect," Choti pointed
"But it's very interesting," he added. "And certainly the cost and risk of aspirin use is quite low. And this is compelling evidence to suggest there is some benefit, and it's perhaps another reason to advocate the use of aspirin."
Because the study was presented at a medical meeting, the
findings should be viewed as preliminary until they are published
in a peer-reviewed journal.
For more on pancreatic cancer, visit the
American Cancer Society.
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