There’s a lot of debate around the effectiveness of aspirin in the medical world. Some studies claim it does wonders for health, while others cast doubt over its ability to prevent illness.
The results of a new study found cancer patients who take a daily dose of aspirin increase their risk of surviving the disease. The research, conducted by Cardiff University and published in the PLoS ONE Journal, found cancer patients who took aspirin increased their survival rate.
The systematic review analysed 71 different medical studies and looked at the survival of 120,000 patients with cancer who used aspirin, compared with 400,000 who didn’t. The results found at any time following a cancer diagnosis, survival rates of patients who took aspirin were between 20 and 30 per cent higher than those who weren’t taking the drug.
It also found the spread of cancer to other parts of the body was reduced in the patients who took aspirin. Researchers now believe that in addition to being used to prevent heart disease and stroke, aspirin could also be used to treat cancer.
Researchers pointed out that in one of the studies analysed, a 65-year-old man taking aspirin would have a similar prognosis to a man five years younger who doesn’t take the drug. The main cancers included as part of the research were prostate, breast and bowel.
While promising, it’s important to note this is an observational study of patients who used aspirin for reasons other than cancer treatment. This means further studies and trials need to be complete to ensure the data is accurate.
It comes after a study from researchers at Monash University published in the New England Journal of Medicine found earlier this month that a daily dose of aspirin could do more harm than good.
The study found an aspirin a day didn’t lower the risk of death, disability or cardiovascular disease and instead, increased the risk of death and bleeding. Researchers said millions of healthy older people around the world take low doses of aspirin without medical reasons and that doing so isn’t healthy because it doesn’t provide benefit to offset the risk of bleeding.
Another study, published in the Medical Journal of Australia, found the bleeding risk in aspirin users increases for those with a common stomach bacteria. The stomach bacteria, known as Helicobacter pylori, more than doubles the risk of upper gastrointestinal bleeding in people who take daily low-doses of 325mg or less of aspirin.
It’s always important to discuss the benefits and potential side effects of aspirin with a GP or health professional before taking the medication.