November 02, 2017
2 min read

Aspirin especially protective against GI cancers

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Long-term aspirin use significantly reduced the incidence of many cancers, but was especially protective against gastrointestinal cancers, according to new research presented at UEG Week.

“The findings demonstrate that the long-term use of aspirin can reduce the risk of developing many major cancers,” Kelvin Tsoi, PhD, research associate professor of the Stanley Ho Big Data Decision Analytics Research Centre, and associate professor of the School of Public Health and Primary Care at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, said in a press release. “What should be noted is the significance of the results for cancers within the digestive tract, where the reductions in cancer incidence were all very substantial, especially for liver and esophageal cancer.”

To compare the protective effects of aspirin against GI and non-GI cancers, Tsoi and colleagues evaluated data on more than 600,000 people seen at public hospitals in Hong Kong. They identified 206,295 who were prescribed aspirin for at least 6 months (mean age, 67.5 years; average aspirin duration, 7.7 years; median dose, 80 mg), matched them with 412,589 non-aspirin users (mean age, 67.6 years), and followed patient outcomes for up to 14 years.

Overall, 15.9% of patients developed cancer, the most common of which was lung cancer.

Aspirin-users showed a 47% reduction in liver cancer incidence (OR = 0.53; 95% CI, 0.51-0.56), a 47% reduction in esophageal cancer (OR = 0.53; 95% CI, 0.49-0.59), a 38% reduction in gastric cancer (OR = 0.62; 95% CI, 0.58-0.65), a 34% reduction in pancreatic cancer (OR = 0.66; 95% CI, 0.60-0.71) and a 24% reduction in colorectal cancer (OR = 0.76; 95% CI, 0.73-0.78).

Regarding non-GI cancers, aspirin-users only showed significant reductions in leukemia (OR = 0.76; 95% CI, 0.68-0.84), lung cancer (OR = 0.65; 95% CI, 0.63-0.66), and prostate cancer (OR = 0.86; 95% CI, 0.82-0.91), but not breast, bladder, kidney and multiple myeloma cancers.

The investigators concluded that long-term aspirin can protect against many cancers, especially GI cancers, but the benefits may be limited in some non-GI cancers.

“Digestive cancers account for almost a quarter of cancer cases in Europe,” according to the press release. “Colorectal, gastric and pancreatic cancer are within the top five cancer killers throughout the continent, with digestive cancers representing 30.1% of cancer deaths.” – by Adam Leitenberger


Tsoi K, et al. Abstract OP109. Presented at: UEG Week; Oct. 28 to Nov. 1, 2017; Barcelona.

Disclosures: Tsoi reports no relevant financial disclosures.