“A critical weekly review of important new research findings for health-conscious readers”
ASPIRIN MAY PREVENT PANCREATIC CANCER
Pancreatic cancer is a relatively rare form of cancer (fewer than two percent of adults in the United States will ever be diagnosed with this form of cancer). However, although rare, pancreatic cancer is an extremely lethal type of cancer, with an average 5-year survival rate of only 5 to 8 percent, overall. Therefore, as I discuss extensively in my recent book,A Cancer Prevention Guide for the Human Race, any cancer prevention strategy that even modestly decreases the risk of this terrible form of cancer should be carefully considered.
Aspirin belongs to a class of medications known as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). Aspirin, like other NSAIDs, blocks a key enzyme that leads to inflammation in our bodies. This enzyme, cyclooxygenase, is also known to play an important role in the development of several types of cancer, and so aspirin, and other NSAIDs, have been extensively studied as potential cancer prevention drugs.
A new pancreatic cancer prevention study from the prestigious Mayo Clinic appears in the current issue of the journalCancer Prevention Research. In this clinical study, 904 patients with known pancreatic cancer were compared with 1,224 healthy control patients with the same age and sex distribution as the group of patients with pancreatic cancer. The frequency and dose of aspirin intake was then evaluated for both groups of patients.
In this clinical research study, the use of aspirin one or more days per month was associated with26 percent decrease in the risk of developing pancreatic cancer. Among patients who took low-dose aspirin each day to prevent heart disease, the protective effect against pancreatic cancer appeared to be even greater, with an observed33 percent decrease in the risk of developing pancreatic cancer in this sub-group of patients.
While a randomized, placebo-controlled, prospective clinical research trial will be necessary to confirm the encouraging findings of this clinical research study, the findings of this case control study are, nonetheless, very compelling. Moreover, the findings of this retrospective study are very similar to the findings of both retrospective and prospective clinical research studies that have previously identified a similar reduction in the risk of colorectal cancer with aspirin and other NSAIDs.
As aspirin can cause significant adverse health effects, including GI tract ulcers, GI tract bleeding, and kidney damage, aspirin therapy should only started with the approval of your physician.
For my previous columns on aspirin as a cancer prevention drug, please click the following links:
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