Credit By: National Cancer Institute
A recent meta-analysis conducted by the Welsh Aspirin Group at Cardiff University suggests that aspirin, a widely available and cost-effective medication, could benefit cancer treatments significantly. The study, titled “Aspirin and cancer treatment: systematic reviews and meta-analyses of evidence: for and against,” and published in the British Journal of Cancer, provides insights into the potential impacts of aspirin on preventing metastatic cancer spread and reducing vascular complications.
Key Findings and Analysis
- Study Scope: The meta-analysis examined 118 observational studies involving approximately 1 million patients with diverse cancer types.
- Dosage and Impact: The research revealed that taking a daily low-dose aspirin (75 or 81 mg/day) was associated with a noteworthy 20% reduction in deaths from cancer and all causes.
- Biological Mechanisms: Aspirin, first identified in 1968 as beneficial in cancer treatment, targets fundamental biological mechanisms, mitigating risks of metastatic cancer spread and vascular complications.
- Safety Considerations: While aspirin is known to increase the risk of gastrointestinal bleeding, the study evaluated associated risks. Findings suggest that bleeding attributable to aspirin is less severe than gastrointestinal bleeding in patients with stomach ulcers or infections, and no valid evidence of fatal bleeding due to aspirin was identified.
Implications for Cancer Treatment
- Positive Evidence: The meta-analysis supports the use of low-dose aspirin in cancer treatments, demonstrating positive evidence of reduced metastatic cancer spread and complications related to blood clots.
- Relative Safety: Considering the relative safety of aspirin, researchers argue for its promotion as an additional treatment for cancer. The earlier aspirin is initiated after a cancer diagnosis, the greater the potential benefit.
- Global Impact: As aspirin is cost-effective and widely accessible, its promotion as a cancer treatment could have global benefits, particularly in regions with delays in specialist services for cancer patients.
The researchers, led by Honorary Professor Peter Elwood, conclude that the positive evidence, coupled with aspirin’s safety profile and global accessibility, justifies its use as an additional cancer treatment. They emphasize the potential enormous benefits, especially in the context of delays in specialized cancer services.
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