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Aspirin Effect on Cancer Mortality May be Less

Aug 12, 2012 07:18 AM EDT

A new study suggests that taking aspirin may reduce the risk of cancer deaths but not as thought earlier.

Researchers from the American Cancer Society revealed that around 8 to 16 percent of cancer patients who took aspirin have a lower mortality rate over an 11-year period compared to those who did not consume aspirin. While the effect of aspirin was greater in gastrointestinal tract cancers, which contributed to 40 percent of lower death rate, other cancers play a small part in lowering the death rates.

Researcher Eric Jacobs from the American Cancer Society analyzed more than 100,000 cancer patients for 11 years between 1997 and 2008. They found that around 5,000 participants succumbed to the disease. While 596 males per 100,000 people who did not take aspirin died of cancer every year, 493 per 100,000 people who took aspirin were said to have died of the disease, according to a report in NBCNews.

In case of women, 337 out of 100,000 people who died had not taken aspirin and 295 from 100,000 every year died of cancer despite taking aspirin.

"Our results provide additional support for a potential benefit of daily aspirin use for cancer mortality, but important questions remain about the size of this potential benefit," Eric Jacobs, who conducted the new study, told NBCNews.

But the percentage of reduction in cancer death pointed out in the current study is completely different and much smaller than the rate that was mentioned in a recent report published in the March edition of Lancet, wherein the researchers have claimed that aspirin consumption reduces the risk of cancer-related deaths by 37 percent.

Although the current study showed link between aspirin consumption and lower cancer deaths, researchers noted that the effects of aspirin are not known and it was very early to think about aspirin as an effective drug to prevent cancer. "It is still premature to recommend people start taking aspirin specifically to prevent cancer," Jacobs told NBCNews .

"Expert committees that develop clinical guidelines will consider the totality of evidence about aspirin's risks and benefits when guidelines for aspirin use are next updated," he said.

The findings of the study are published in the journal of the National Cancer Institute.

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