Aspirin a big cancer hope
THE humble aspirin is shaping up as the next secret weapon in the war on cancer, but it's still nosubstitute for giving up cigarettes, eating healthily and exercising.
Lismore-based oncologist Adam Boyce said new findings released this week that aspirin could help ward off cancer were promising.
However, he said they were not enough to compensate for risks associated with long-term use of the drug, such as potentially fatal internal bleeding, or to beat the benefits of a healthy lifestyle.
The study, published in The Lancet journal in Britain, found doses as low as 75 milligrams – much less than found in an aspirin pill – could cut cancer deaths by up to one-fifth. After five years of regular use, the cancer risk was cut by up to 40 per cent, depending on the type of disease.
However, the drug was little help in halting the progress of cancer once it had already developed.
Dr Boyce said one area where aspirin could be particularly beneficial was in cardiovascular patients, where the drug was being prescribed anyway for its blood-thinning properties.
He noted studies so far had been silent on the ability of aspirin to help prevent things such as ovarian and breast cancers.
Soul Pattinson Goonellabah pharmacist Jonathan Aldous said the research could point to a further purpose for aspirin in the future.
While the drug remained available as a painkiller, that niche had been largely overtaken by paracetamol and ibuprofen, he said.
Mr Aldous said most aspirin sold through the pharmacy was now prescribed to help prevent heart attacks and stroke. There were many drugs that had found second and third purposes, but aspirin was the best known of them.