New research holds out hope that benefits of aspirin extend to lung cancer in women.
Aspirin, the wonder drug that helps in many ways, has a new benefit according to new research – it might lower the risk of lung cancer in women.
In a new study of more than 1,200 Asian women, those who took aspirin at least a couple of times a week had a much lower risk of developing lung cancer — whether or not they had ever smoked.
The findings, which link regularly taking aspirin to a risk reduction of 50 percent or more, do not prove that aspirin directly protects against lung cancer. There may be other explanations for the connection. Still, the study backs up a number of previous ones linking regular aspirin use to lower risks of certain cancers, including colon, prostate and esophageal cancers.
Don’t Smoke Is Best Advice
While not smoking is still the predominant method to avoid lung cancer, the new study suggests aspirin can help. The study involved nearly 400 Chinese women diagnosed with lung cancer and 814 women without cancer. Women who had used aspirin regularly — at least twice a week for one month or longer — were less likely to have lung cancer. Among women who had never smoked, the odds were 50 percent lower for aspirin users versus non-users. And among smokers, aspirin use was tied to a 62 percent lower risk of lung cancer.
The researchers were able to account for some other factors, like the women’s age, education and fruit and vegetable intake. But there could still be other differences that would help explain why aspirin users had a lower lung cancer risk, they said.
Other studies have linked regular aspirin use to lower risks of several types of cancer. Most recently, an analysis of past clinical trials found that people given daily low-dose aspirin were less likely to develop cancer after three years of use. Aspirin appeared to prevent about three cases of cancer per 1,000 aspirin users per year.
While the benefits of aspirin have been established, there are risks as well, such as gastrointestinal side effects. Some people can develop bleeding ulcers from aspirin use. Aspirin is also linked to an increased risk of hemorrhagic stroke — bleeding in or around the brain.
Many middle-aged and older adults already take daily aspirin for their cardiovascular health. The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommends that men age 45 to 79 take aspirin to prevent heart attacks, as long as their personal benefit is likely to outweigh the risk of bleeding. For women age 55 to 79, aspirin is recommended to prevent ischemic strokes (strokes caused by a blood clot), with the same caution.
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