Aspirin was first marketed in 1899 under the registered trademark of “Aspirin.” This product has been used for headaches, fever and minor aches and pains. A recent meta-analysis (looking at results from different similar studies) demonstrated that low dose aspirin (81mg), taken daily for at least 5 years, not only lowers the risk of colon cancer but also reduces death from colon cancer and other solid tumors.
In a second meta-analysis involving more than 12,000 people in 3 trials, patients who were assigned daily aspirin for at least 5 years had significantly lower 20-year mortality caused by gastrointestinal cancers and all solid cancers. The death rate continued to decline with longer duration of treatment and was independent of aspirin dose.
Many people take aspirin to prevent heart disease. Aspirin plays 2 roles in preventing cardiovascular disease. First, it works as an anti-inflammatory (which is why it helps the aches, pains and headaches). Second, it is referred to as a platelet greaser, in which it prevents platelets from sticking to the side walls of blood vessels after injury. Since blood can flow more easily after taking aspirin, it can also increase the risk of bleeding in the stomach and other tissues.
So the ideal person to take low-dose aspirin is someone who has established heart disease (had a heart attack or stroke) and is at low risk for bleeding. Those who took aspirin and did not have established heart disease, but only took it for prevention had an increased risk of serious bleeding of the stomach, brain and urinary tract. Make sure you are monitoring for bleeding and interactions with other medications. Aspirin should be avoided in those that have gout, diabetes, kidney disease or an allergy to aspirin, or salicin. Also, avoid taking aspirin with nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications such as Ibuprofen (Advil) and Naproxen (Aleeve).
So now low-dose aspirin has 2 important benefits. It can reduce cardiovascular events in those who have established heart disease. It can also prevent cancer and it’s metastasis (spread to other tissues in the body). It mainly prevents long-term cancer risk of colon cancer, but also prevents other adenocarcinomas such as breast, ovary, uterus, stomach, and lung cancers.
Reference: Soloway, B. MD. “Aspirin for Preventing Colorectal Cancers and Other Solid Tumors.” JWatch.org, Jan. 1, 2012.