Could Aspirin Lower Cancer Risk?


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keep_aspirin_aw_photo.jpgAccording to ABC News, several studies are in the works right now that are suggesting that aspirin could help reduce the risk of cancers of many forms. One study in particular, which is what this post will mostly focus on, is the possibility of aspirin reducing the risk for liver cancer.

According to this study, one of the reasons that aspirin may reduce the risk for liver cancer is because it is an anti-inflammatory. This is in opposition to acetaminophen (such as Tylenol) which actually harms the liver. However, studies have also shown that NSAIDs, such as many forms of aspirins, have caused liver damage in mice. So, this brings up two main questions: what are the benefits of aspirin use for the liver and is the risk of so many illnesses worth taking aspirin for the sole purpose of preventing liver cancer?

We know that aspirin thins blood and the purpose of the liver is to filter the blood of toxins. However, upon adding a foreign substance to the blood stream (such as aspirin) the liver then has to work to filter out the substance. We know that liver cancer risk is greatly increased by things such as Hepatitis and alcohol use that makes the liver work harder. Perhaps the reason that anti-inflammatory drugs reduce the risk of liver cancer is because thinner blood is easier for the liver to filter? 

There are also risk factors that go along with excessive use of aspirins that need to be evaluated in this situation. A lot of these risk factors have to do with risks of severe bleeding due to the thinning of blood. Heart attack and kidney damage could also come from increased aspirin use. As far as liver cancer goes, we know that it is not dreadfully common but it is the most fatal form of cancer worldwide with 600,000 dying each year, and more men get it than women. Knowing these statistics about liver cancer and the risks associated with aspirin, one needs to decide if, based on this study, it is a good idea to follow a daily aspirin regime to reduce the risk of liver cancer.

What do you guys think? Why do you think there is a possibility of aspirins reducing liver cancer? Do you think this study is reliable? Would you start an aspirin regime given the risks of aspirin use and the stats on liver cancer, based on this study?

4 Comments

This article caught my attention because I have only ever heard of the negative side effects of taking aspirin. Every since I was younger, I always took baby aspirin for any of my minor health problems. When I took a human anatomy class in high school, I was advised not to rely on aspirin because of its blood thinning effects. Upon doing a little research about this drug, I found a compelling article from the FDA. The article(which can be found with this link: http://www.fda.gov/Drugs/ResourcesForYou/Consumers/BuyingUsingMedicineSafely/UnderstandingOver-the-CounterMedicines/SafeDailyUseofAspirin/ucm291433.htm)explains that there are certain circumstances when the daily use of aspirin is recommended, although this must be done by a medical health professional. Overall, the use of aspirin daily " has been shown to be helpful when used daily to lower the risk of heart attack, clot-related strokes and other blood flow problems," according to the FDA.

Taking an excessive amount of aspirin is not healthy. As stated, it is a blood thinner and can lead to things such as stomach pains, longer healing process for wounds, and can damage kidneys, along with many other potential side effects. So I wouldn't say that taking Aspirin daily is a good idea.

On the other hand, if liver cancer runs in your family and you have a good chance of getting it then maybe it is a good idea. Liver cancer is a very common form of cancer and if something as simple as aspirin could prevent it then why not?

So the study may possibly be reliable. Although it may be reliable, it might not necessarily be safe. If liver cancer runs in the family, you drink an immense amount of alcohol and/or have Hepatitis, then taking Aspirin every day could potentially be a good idea. Other than that, I don't think that it should be recommended to everyone.

This study doesn't have me fully convinced to take asprin on a daily basis. While it does seem beneficial it's not a miracle worker and This article from the NY Times says that doctors still need more research about inflammation in cancer development and that the difference between asprin and other drugs was a chance finding. So there is no certainty. Also I have yet to have any liver problems so I probably won't be taking asprin for that sole reason.
The study does seem reliable because of the large experimental group they used and the results they came up with...37% reduced risk in liver cancer and 51% reduced risk of death from liver disease. Pretty astounding! But this is something we should still keep a close watch on.

While I've definitely heard of health benefits of aspirin before, I've never been one to know exactly what aspirin is, or the differences between it and tylenol. I'm hoping that's not an uncommon instance, but people confusing them could lead to some serious problems. While aspirin may be beneficial to the liver, tylenol can actually cause some serious liver damage. Tylenol is currently the most popular painkiller in the US, and if people aren't careful, popping too much of this pill could lead to some serious problems in the future.

http://www.medicinenet.com/tylenol_liver_damage/article.htm

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