Can aspirin be used to reduce colorectal cancer risk?

Can aspirin be used to reduce colorectal cancer risk?

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Aspirin to protect against colorectal cancer

Aspirin intake reduces the likelihood of colorectal cancer by about half, even in people with a high genetic risk, according to a recent study. Aspirin may therefore also be used for colon cancer prevention.

A major international study involving researchers from Jyväskylä University found that aspirin appears to protect against colorectal cancer, even when there is a genetic risk. The results of the current study were published in the English language journal "The Lancet".

Other studies have already shown similar results

The finding of the new study is similar to what has been observed in various large cardiovascular studies. Tens of thousands of people were given aspirin in placebo-controlled trials to help prevent cardiovascular events. The analysis of the data also showed that people taking aspirin contracted colon cancer significantly less frequently than those who only received a placebo.

New study examined people with Lynch syndrome

The participants in the current study were previously identified as carriers of Lynch syndrome. Lynch syndrome increases the risk of multiple cancers. Affected people carry a gene that causes an error in the so-called DNA mismatch repair. Lynch syndrome is the most common predisposition to cancer, the prevalence of which in the general population is one disease per 250 people. Most of those affected are not aware of possible genetic predispositions, the frogers report.

What can indicate Lynch syndrome?

The Lynch syndrome gene often leads to cancer at a young age, most often in the intestine, uterus, bladder, ureter or biliary tract. Genetic tests are beneficial for the monitoring and targeted prevention of high-risk individuals. If the family has had multiple cancers at a relatively young age (50-60 years) or if some relatives have had multiple cancers in the above-mentioned organs, family members should have genetic testing and counseling carried out, the researchers recommend.

Aspirin halves the risk of colorectal cancer

The long-term results of the current study show that taking 600 mg aspirin daily can reduce the risk of colon cancer by half compared to people who only took a placebo. Study participants were randomly given either aspirin or a placebo for two to four years. All participants were medically monitored for ten to twenty years. Of the people taking aspirin, 40 developed colorectal cancer, while 58 of those taking placebo developed colorectal cancer.

Advantages and disadvantages of aspirin

The results should be interpreted statistically in such a way that aspirin reduces the risk by about 50 percent, with the protective effect continuing for ten to twenty years after taking the drug. However, high doses of aspirin can cause bleeding and gastric ulcers, which is why the research group is currently conducting another study with three different doses of aspirin (100, 300 and 600 mg daily) to minimize the risk and still maintain a protective effect against colon cancer. (as)

Author and source information

This text corresponds to the specifications of the medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been checked by medical doctors.


  • John Burn, Harsh Sheth, Faye Elliott, Lynn Reed, Finlay Macrae et al .: Cancer prevention with aspirin in hereditary colorectal cancer (Lynch syndrome), 10-year follow-up and registry-based 20-year data in the CAPP2 study: a double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled trial, in The Lancet (Published June 13, 2020), The Lancet

Video: Aspirin (May 2022).


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