More evidence for aspirin/bowel cancer prevention link

In collaboration with the Press Association

A new study has provided yet more evidence to support the role of aspirin in reducing the risk of bowel cancer. Several studies have suggested that aspirin and other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) may reduce the risk of bowel cancer by up to 40 per cent. Now, a study of osteoarthritis patients by doctors at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH), published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine, has found that individuals with a history of osteoarthritis, for which NSAIDs are a common treatment, were 15 per cent less likely to be diagnosed with bowel cancer. Lead author Dr Elizabeth Lamont, from MGH's Cancer Centre, commented: "This is good news for people who take NSAIDs regularly for osteoarthritis. "Although patients face risks such as bleeding or kidney damage from this therapy, they probably are at a lower risk of developing colorectal (bowel) cancer." This is not the first study to find evidence for a link between aspirin use and reduced bowel cancer risk. Earlier trials have suggested that NSAIDs can protect against precancerous polyps in the bowel. Commenting on the latest research, Dr Lamont said: "The magnitude of colorectal cancer risk reduction between patients with and without osteoarthritis is completely consistent with the risk reduction for pre-cancerous polyps reported in clinical trials of NSAIDs. "Confirming this association supports the need for further research to identify NSAID agents safe enough to be used for regular, preventive therapy by the general population." Dr Lamont noted that people should not consider taking NSAIDs such as aspirin solely to prevent cancer, because of the other health risks posed by taking large doses of these drugs.