In Brief: Aspirin as colon cancer treatment?

Published: January, 2010

Aspirin has solid cardiovascular health credentials. For men, regular use starting in the mid-40s lowers the risk of having a heart attack. For women, regular use starting in the mid-50s reduces the chances of having a stroke.

Aspirin also has colon cancer prevention on its r?sum?, but it's not nearly as clear-cut as the cardiovascular bona fides. The research has ping-ponged back and forth. One study suggested that daily doses in the same range used for cardiovascular purposes (81–325 mg) could prevent the recurrence of polyps in people who have already had them. But a couple of large randomized trials didn't find any benefit for people who hadn't had polyps or colon cancer. The American Cancer Society and other groups haven't endorsed the routine use of aspirin for colon cancer prevention. The thinking is that the iffy evidence of protection is outweighed by the very real risks of gastrointestinal bleeding.

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