Meta-Analysis Suggests Aspirin Use Reduces Risk of Cancer Mortality

Aspirin is probably a candidate for most well-studied drug in human patients, going by number of participants and sheer volume of data generated by studies. It is also a cautionary tale for those who expect clear answers to result from studies of modest, long-term effects in humans. The long-term benefits of aspirin, like most small molecule approaches to manipulation of metabolism, tend to appear in some studies and vanish in others. Effects may be positive in some classes of individual, negative in others, and it is not well understood how to differentiate between those groups. The meta-analysis here stands in opposition to the ASPREE study, for example, in which modestly increased mortality was found to correlate with aspirin use.

Aspirin as a possible treatment of cancer has been of increasing interest for over 50 years, but the balance of the risks and benefits remains a point of contention. We summarise the valid published evidence 'for' and 'against' the use of aspirin as a cancer treatment and we present what we believe are relevant ethical implications. Reasons for aspirin include the benefits of aspirin taken by patients with cancer upon relevant biological cancer mechanisms. These explain the observed reductions in metastatic cancer and vascular complications in cancer patients

Meta-analyses of 118 observational studies of mortality in cancer patients give evidence consistent with reductions of about 20% in mortality associated with aspirin use. Reasons against aspirin use include increased risk of a gastrointestinal bleed though there appears to be no valid evidence that aspirin is responsible for fatal gastrointestinal bleeding. Few trials have been reported and there are inconsistencies in the results. In conclusion, given the relative safety and the favourable effects of aspirin, its use in cancer seems justified, and ethical implications of this imply that cancer patients should be informed of the present evidence and encouraged to raise the topic with their healthcare team.



Maybe a meta-analysis would show any equivalently powerful anti-inflammatory would reduce cancer mortality.

Posted by: Tom Schaefer at December 12th, 2023 8:59 AM

What is safe daily dosage for normal people using OTC aspirin?

Posted by: Spiruline at December 12th, 2023 11:31 AM
Comment Submission

Post a comment; thoughtful, considered opinions are valued. New comments can be edited for a few minutes following submission. Comments incorporating ad hominem attacks, advertising, and other forms of inappropriate behavior are likely to be deleted.

Note that there is a comment feed for those who like to keep up with conversations.