Long-Term Use of Baby Aspirin May Lower Risk of Colorectal Cancer Death

Recent study results have demonstrated that regular use of baby aspirin prior to colorectal cancer diagnosis was associated with better survival outcomes.

Long-term, regular use of baby aspirin (15 or more times per month) before a colorectal cancer (CRC) diagnosis was associated with better survival outcomes, according to research published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

As past research had shown that low-dose aspirin can reduce the risk of colorectal cancer, the researchers aimed to determine the associations between aspirin and non-aspirin nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) with CRC-specific survival.

"Previous studies have not really separated aspirin use from use of non-aspirin NSAIDS,” said lead study author Jane C. Figueiredo, associate professor of medicine at the Samuel Oschin Comprehensive Cancer Institute at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, in a news release on the study. “We sought to understand the relationship between aspirin and non-aspirin NSAIDS and mortality in colorectal cancer patients.”

The observational study included data from more than 2,500 participants who shared information about their aspirin and non-aspirin NSAID use and were eventually diagnosed with CRC. The participants’ outcomes were monitored from their time of enrollment in 1992 or 1993 until December 2016.

The findings showed that use of baby aspirin prior to diagnosis of non-metastatic CRC was associated with a lower rate of metastasis, or tumor spread. Starting aspirin after a diagnosis was not associated with as strong of a benefit. Additionally, the use of non-aspirin NSAIDs was not found to have similar benefits either.

“These findings may provide an inexpensive lifestyle option to people seeking to prevent colorectal cancer, or to improve their prognoses if they are diagnosed,” said Figueiredo.

Ongoing trials are examining the impact of aspirin use on CRC mortality before and after diagnosis. These studies will provide additional guidance for health care providers recommending treatment to patients.

The authors did note, however, that daily aspirin use can also come with some downsides, as it may increase the risk of allergic reaction and internal bleeding, highlighting the need for further discussion between patient and health care provider.

“There are potential harms associated with aspirin use,” said Figueiredo. “There really needs to be a conversation between clinicians and patients about both the risks and benefits. These studies and our results really add to that conversation.”

For more news on cancer updates, research and education, don’t forget to subscribe to CURE®’s newsletters here.