Taking aspirin every day may increase cancer growth in older people

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In a recent study at Monash University in Melbourne, researchers found that a daily, low dose of aspirin may increase the risk for development and metastasis as well as death in people aged 65 years and older who develop cancer.

The study is published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute. One author is John J. McNeil, M.B.B.S., Ph.D.

In the study, the team studied the daily use of 100 mg of aspirin in 16,703 Australians (aged 70 years and older) and 2,411 U.S. participants (aged 65 years and older) for about 5 years.

All the people were free of physical disabilities, dementia, or heart disease. Cancer incidence and mortality were assessed.

A total of 981 cancer events occurred in the aspirin group, while 952 occurred within the placebo group.

The researchers found a link between daily aspirin intake and the occurrence of metastasis or progression to a stage 4 diagnosis in patients with cancer.

Additionally, patients were found to have an increased risk for death if their presenting cancer stage was at 3 or 4.

No big differences were observed in the occurrence of all incident cancers, hematological cancer, or all solid cancers.

The team says possible explanations for this finding include aspirin suppressing (or ‘blunting’) anti-tumor inflammatory or immune responses critical to controlling later-stage growth and spread.

Such an effect may be particularly evident among an older population for which underlying anti-tumor immunity may already be compromised.

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