Aspirin may not protect smokers from bowel cancer says study

In collaboration with the Press Association

Aspirin may not exert its anti-bowel cancer effect on smokers, scientists have found.

Several studies have suggested that aspirin and other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory (NSAID) drugs may cut bowel cancer risk by up to 40 per cent, although how much aspirin needs to be taken, and how often, is still not known.

But now a study of 3,299 adults, around half of whom had a history of bowel cancer, has failed to find any difference between smokers who took NSAIDs and those who didn't.

Smokers also had around a 30 per cent higher risk of colon cancer than non-smokers, reported the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Centre study.

"Given the damage that smokers receive over their lifetime, even strong anti-progression agents, like NSAIDs, may be ineffective," the authors wrote.

"NSAIDs may not be able to counteract the long-term effects of smoking, as evidenced by our observation that long-term smokers are at increased risk of colorectal cancer, despite current NSAID use."

Experts at the Mayo Clinic College of medicine also contributed to the study. The research has been published in the journal Cancer Research.

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