The intended use of Aspirin is for everyday ailments such as fever, pain and headaches, but a study published Monday has revealed there may be some long-term benefits of regular usage. Researchers have found daily aspirin reduces the long-term risk of cancer in those who are overweight and have a family history of the disease, according to a report from New Castle University and the University of Leeds in the United Kingdom.
For 10 years, the study looked at more than 1,000 patients with Lynch Syndrome, a genetic condition that has a risk of colon and uterine cancer. The participants varied in weight, but those who were overweight and had the syndrome were at an even greater risk of developing cancer -- every unit above what is considered a healthy BMI increases their risk by 7 percent.
Participants were split into two groups and were either given two aspirins or placebo pills every day for two years. Researchers then followed up with the patients again, eight years after they stopped taking the pill, and found that those who were obese and took the aspirin were not at a greater risk than the healthy participants.
"The lesson for all of us is that everyone should try to maintain a healthy weight, and for those already obese, the best thing is to lose weight," said Researcher John Mathers, professor of Human Nutrition at Newcastle University. "However, for many patients this can be very difficult, so a simple aspirin may be able to help this group."
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Professor Sir John Burn, professor of Clinical Genetics at Newcastle University, who led the international research collaboration, advises that despite aspirin being an over-the-counter medication, people should still consult their physician about daily use.
"Before anyone begins to take aspirin on a regular basis, they should consult their doctor, as aspirin is known to bring with it a risk of stomach complaints -- including ulcers," he said. "But if there is a strong family history of cancer, then people may want to weigh up the cost-benefits, particularly as these days, drugs which block acid production in the stomach are available over the counter."
Researchers plan to conduct a follow-up trial to test the effect of different doses of aspirin -- not just 600 mg.