Wednesday, September 15, 2010

A baby aspirin a day helps keep the doctor away!

     This is well known when it comes to heart health. But did you know that this same medication can protect you from developing colon cancer? And it only takes a small dose (approx 75 mg) per day to do so! A moderately-sized study (approx 2200 patients in both the treatment and control groups) published in a recent volume of Gut found a significant difference in the incidence of colon cancer between people who take a baby aspirin every day and controls (who do not take the aspirin). And the effect was noted at 5 years...meaning that you don't have to take the medication for that long (5 yrs is a relatively short amount of time in the prevention world) to notice a difference in colon cancer rates.
      This type of "prevention" is known as chemo-prevention, in that a drug (chemical, hence chemo-) can be taken to prevent a specific illness (hence -prevention). A well-known example of chemo-prevention is tamoxifen, which is used to prevent breast cancer. I point this out as we will be seeing more and more of this type of prevention in the future.
     As for this study, more research needs to be done (a randomized, controlled trial) to evaluate if these findings are long-lasting and robust. My advice, though, is to take the baby aspirin (they are accessible, cheap, relatively low risk and  good for your heart!) unless you've had a GI bleed or hemorrhagic stroke - then stick to an apple a day and consult your doctor!

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