Aspirin May Reduce Risk of Stomach Cancer

Posted on August 28th, 2009 by

Regular aspirin use may reduce the risk of distal stomach cancer (cancer in the lower part of the stomach). These results were published in the American Journal of Epidemiology.

Cancer of the stomach is called gastric cancer. Gastric adenocarcinoma is the most common type of stomach cancer. It arises from cells that line the surface of the stomach. An important risk factor for gastric cancer is infection with the bacterium Helicobacter Pylori (H. pylori).

Although the frequency of gastric cancer has been declining, rates of gastric cancer remain high in many parts of the world. Because of the number of people affected and the generally poor prognosis of gastric cancer, researchers continue to search for ways to prevent the disease.

Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) include drugs such as aspirin and ibuprofen. These drugs are commonly used to reduce inflammation and relieve pain, but research suggests that NSAIDS may also reduce the risk of certain types of cancer.

To explore the relationship between NSAID use and risk of stomach cancer, researchers evaluated information from a study known as the Multiethnic Cohort Study. Study participants were enrolled in Hawaii and Los Angeles. During the study, 643 study participants were diagnosed with stomach cancer.

Information about aspirin and non-aspirin NSAID use was collected by self-administered questionnaire.

  • Regular aspirin use was linked with a 27% reduction in risk of distal stomach cancer (cancer in the lower part of the stomach).
  • Non-aspirin NSAID use did not influence the risk of stomach cancer.

This study suggests that regular aspirin use may reduce the risk of distal stomach cancer. Because regular aspirin use also carries some risks, however, people who are considering taking aspirin on a regular basis are advised to talk with their physician.

Reference: Epplein M, Nomura AMY, Wilkens LR, Henderson BE, Kolonel LN. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and risk of gastric adenocarcinoma: The Multiethnic Cohort Study. American Journal of Epidemiology. 2009; 170:507-14.

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