Aspirin May Reduce Risk of Colon Cancer for Most People
Following a meta-analysis, researchers have suggested that regular use of aspirin may reduce the risk of colon cancer for the majority of people.
The researchers analysed ten large studies which were conducted in Australia, Germany, Canada and the United States. These included over 16,000 people, all of European descent. The data showed that those who took aspirin regularly were 30% less likely to develop lower colorectal cancer. However, this preventative effect was not seen in people with relatively uncommon variants in genes on chromosomes 12 and 15.
Co-senior author Andrew Chan, of the Massachusetts General Hospital Gastroenterology Division and an associate professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School, said that the risks associated with aspirin and other anti-inflammatories, such as internal bleeding, must be discussed between doctor and patient when considering the potential benefits of such drugs.
“This study suggests that adding information about one’s genetic profile might help in making that decision,” he says. “However, it is premature to recommend genetic screening to guide clinical care, since our findings need to be validated in other populations.”
Chan and his fellow researchers hope to determine whether a person’s genes also affect the likelihood of developing serious side effects from aspirin and similar drugs.
“In the not-too-distant future it will be possible to affordably and efficiently conduct genetic testing in healthy individuals to more accurately define benefits and risks of interventions intended to decrease risk of disease,” said Richard Wender of the American Cancer Society in Atlanta, in an accompanying editorial. “The ability to translate genetic profiling into tailored preventive care plans for individuals is still years away but with the study by (Hongmei) Nan et al, the road, arduous as it may be, is more clearly illuminated.”