Daily low-dose aspirin might reduce your risk of dying from cancer, particularly if you’ve packed on a few extra pounds, researchers say. Taking aspirin three or more times a week is associated with a lower risk of cancer death as well as death for any reason, a new study reports. Aspirin’s protective effect appears particularly pronounced among people who are overweight — those with a body mass index of 25 to 29.9, the results show.
Low-dose aspirin reduced overall cancer death risk by 15% and all-cause death by 19% among more than 146,000 people who participated in a cancer screening trial conducted between 1993 and 2008, the study authors said.
Overweight folks also experienced a marked decline in their risk of death from gastrointestinal cancer (28%) and colon cancer (34%).
“Our primary focus was really on colorectal cancer deaths, since there’s a lot of evidence to suggest that aspirin use may lower risk of gastrointestinal deaths,” said lead researcher Holli Loomans-Kropp, a cancer prevention fellow with the U.S. National Cancer Institute.
The study results support the standing recommendation of the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF), which says people 50 to 59 should take low-dose aspirin to prevent colon cancer if they’re not at increased risk for bleeding.
Daily aspirin use as a preventive health measure has become controversial over the past few years, however.
In March, the American College of Cardiology and the American Heart Association changed their guidelines to restrict low-dose aspirin use to people at high risk for heart disease or stroke. The two groups argued that the bleeding risk from aspirin outweighed the heart benefits for healthy people.
The USPSTF continues to recommend low-dose aspirin for middle-aged people for heart health, if they have a 10% or greater chance of developing heart disease within the next decade.
The new study involved a re-analysis of data gathered during the Prostate, Lung, Colorectal and Ovarian Cancer Screening Trial, which was sponsored by the National Cancer Institute.