Does Aspirin Cut Your Risk of Pancreatic Cancer?

aspirin What You Need to Know: A new study adds to growing evidence suggesting that low-dose aspirin (known to reduce the risk for heart disease) may also reduce the risk for pancreatic cancer.  Background: Pancreas cancer has a 93 percent fatality rate. In the USA, there will be about 46,000 new cases annually, with 40,000 dying of the disease. The Study: Researchers from the Yale School of Public Health (USA) compared aspirin use among 362 pancreatic cancer patients and 690 randomly chose controls. Participants were asked about past and present use of aspirin, defined as at least once a week for three months. The authors controlled for age, sex, race, smoking, diabetes and other variables.

The Evidence: Regular aspirin use lowered the risk for pancreatic cancer by nearly half (48 percent).

  • Patients who used aspirin regularly for 1-3 years reduced their risk by 43 percent;
  • Patients who had been taking it for 7 to 20 years reduced risk by 56 percent.

My Take: We do not know why aspirin may reduce your risk of getting this often deadly cancer. Perhaps aspirin prevents the formation of new tumors. Alternatively, it may help the immune system fight cancer. As for you, ask your health care provide if a low dose aspirin might be for you. One needs to balance risks such as stomach ulcers against potential benefits (such as a reduction in heart attacks and maybe even cancer). While a baby aspirin (81mg) is not for everyone, your should ask if it is good for you personally. I’m Dr. Michael Hunter.

The small print: The material presented herein is informational only, and is not designed to provide specific guidance for an individual. Please check with a valued health care provider with any questions or concerns. As for me, I am a Harvard- , Yale- and UPenn-educated radiation oncologist, and I practice in the Seattle, WA (USA) area. I feel genuinely privileged to be able to share with you. If you enjoyed today’s offering, please consider clicking the follow button at the bottom of this page.

Available now: Understand Colon Cancer in 60 Minutes; Understand Brain Glioma in 60 Minutes. Both can be found at the Apple Ibooks store. Coming Soon for iPad: Understand Breast Cancer in 60 Minutes; Understand Colon Cancer in 60 Minute; Understand Colon Cancer in 60 Minutes; Understand Brain Glioma in 60 Minutes. Thank you.  

Reference: Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention. Published online June 26, 2014.; 23(7); 1-10 AACR (American Association for Cancer Research).

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Harvard AB Yale MD UPenn Radiation Oncology Radiation Oncologist, Seattle area

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