Aspirin May Decrease Pancreatic Cancer Risk

Aspirin—but not other types of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)—may reduce the risk of pancreatic cancer. These results were presented at the 102nd Annual Meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR).

Some studies have suggested that regular aspirin use may reduce the risk of certain types of cancer.

To explore the relationship between aspirin and other NSAIDs and risk of pancreatic cancer, researchers collected information from 904 people with pancreatic cancer and 1,224 people without pancreatic cancer. Study participants reported their use of aspirin, other NSAIDs (such as ibuprofen), and acetaminophen.

  • Compared with people who did not take aspirin regularly, those who took aspirin at least one day per month had a 26% reduction in risk of pancreatic cancer. People who took low-dose aspirin for heart disease prevention had a 35% lower risk of pancreatic cancer.
  • Non-aspirin NSAIDs and acetaminophen did not appear to provide a pancreatic cancer benefit.

Although this study provides additional evidence that regular aspirin use may have cancer benefits, the results are still considered preliminary. It’s also important for people to be aware that regular aspirin use carries some risks. In a prepared statement, a researcher involved with the study noted that “The results are not meant to suggest that everyone should start taking aspirin once monthly to reduce their risk of pancreatic cancer. Individuals should discuss use of aspirin with their physicians because the drug carries some side effects.”

References:

Rothwell PM, Fowkes FG, Belch JF, et al. Effect of daily aspirin on long-term risk of death due to cancer: analysis of individual patient data from randomised trials. The Lancet. 2011;377:31-41.

Tan X-L, Reid Lombardo KM, Bamlet WR, Robinson DP, Anderson K, Petersen GM. Aspirin, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), acetaminophen and risk of pancreatic cancer. Presented at the 102nd Annual Meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR), April 2-6, 2011, Orlando, FL. Abstract 1902.

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