Why an aspirin a day could help fat people: Daily dose of painkiller slashes risk of bowel cancer

  • 10-year study found painkiller reduced risk of bowel cancer in obese adults
  • After taking the drug daily, they had the same risk as normal weight people
  • Participants had rare disease which makes them more likely to get cancer
  • Professor says ‘If you are overweight and over 50, it’s worth thinking about’
  • An aspirin a day could help keep cancer away for millions of people who struggle with their weight.

    A ten-year study found the popular and inexpensive painkiller dramatically reduced the risk of bowel cancer in obese men and women.

    After regularly taking the drug, they were at no higher risk of the disease than people of normal weight.

    The men and women studied had a rare genetic disease that put them at high risk of cancer.

    A ten-year study by researchers at Newcastle and Leeds University’s found the popular and inexpensive painkiller dramatically reduced the risk of bowel cancer in obese men and women

    But the Newcastle and Leeds University researchers found many ordinary people who are fighting the battle of the bulge could benefit from the finding.

    Researcher John Burn, a professor of clinical genetics at Newcastle University said: ‘Lots of people struggle with their weight and this suggests the extra cancer risk can be cancelled by taking an aspirin.’

    At least seven types of cancer, including bowel cancer, are fed by obesity and Britain has the highest level of obesity in western Europe.

    Rates have trebled in the last 30 years and today, one in four British adults is classed as obese, or so overweight their health is at risk.

    Millions more are ‘merely’ overweight..

  • The study tracked the health of almost 1,000 men and women with Lynch syndrome, which raises the odds of developing bowel and other cancers while still relatively young.

    They took either two aspirin every day for two years or a dummy drug.

    Fifty five developed bowel cancer over the next decade and the fatter they were, the higher their odds, culminating in those who were obese being almost three times as likely to be diagnosed with the disease as those who were slim.

    However, taking aspirin reduced their risk to that of their thin counterparts, the Journal of Clinical Oncology reports.

    The researchers say that aspirin is also likely to benefit to those who were overweight but not so heavy that they are obese.

    At least seven types of cancer, including bowel cancer, are fed by obesity and Britain has the highest level of obesity in western Europe

    At least seven types of cancer, including bowel cancer, are fed by obesity and Britain has the highest level of obesity in western Europe

    Professor Burn said people’s goal should be to not become overweight in the first place.

    But if they do become overweight and can’t shift the extra pounds, they might want to consider taking aspirin to cut their odds of cancer.

    As the risk of cancer increases with age, the benefits are likely to be greatest in later life.

    The professor, who follows his own advice and takes regular aspirin, said: ‘If you are overweight and over 50, it’s worth thinking about.

    ‘If you have a family history of cancer as well, you should certainly think about it.’

    However, he stresses that people should speak to their doctor before self-prescribing.

    This is because aspirin can cause serious side-effects, including disabling strokes to potentially fatal stomach bleeds.

    Previous research has credited the humble painkiller with protecting against a host of cancers, including lung, breast and prostate tumours.

    It has been calculated that if everyone in the UK aged between 50 and 64 took aspirin for ten years, it would save 6,000 lives a year.

    However, concern remains about the risk of side-effects.

    Casey Dunlop, of charity Cancer Research UK, said: ‘We know that people who are overweight have an increased risk of bowel cancer, and that aspirin can reduce the risk of bowel cancer in some people – but there is no evidence that shows aspirin can cancel out the effects of being overweight.

    ‘Anyone, overweight, obese or otherwise thinking about taking aspirin regularly should talk to their GP first, as it can have serious side effects.’

    It isn’t clear how aspirin thwarts cancer but it may be by reducing the inflammation with aids and abets cancer’s growth and spread, or by making it easier for the body to kill suspect cells.

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