Chronic low dose aspirin use associated with a reduction in pancreatic cancer risk, study finds

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Screen Shot 2014-05-06 at 2.45.32 PMA pancreatic cancer diagnosis most frequently indicates poor prognosis it has among the worst 5-year survival rate of all cancers which makes this particular type of cancer the fourth leading cause of cancer death. A new study published in the journalCancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention presents a rare positive outlook, suggesting aspirin use is associated with a lower risk of pancreatic cancer.

In a retrospective case-control study, researchers evaluated 362 participants with pancreatic cancer and 690 participants without identified disease, from 2005 to 2009. Participants reported their use of aspirin both dosage and length of use with a daily 75 mg to 325 mg characterized as low-dose. Any dose higher than this range was categorized as regular dose. The results indicate low-dose combined with longer use of aspirin was associated with a higher degree of risk reduction regarding pancreatic cancer. Indeed, a 43 percent lower disease risk was found in patients taking aspirin for one to three years, whereas those taking it for seven to twenty years saw a 56 percent reduction in risk.

The lead author of the study, Dr. Harvey Risch from the Yale School of Public Health, recommends that those patients with a family history or those considered as high risk for developing pancreatic cancer should take aspirin. However, he cautions against indiscriminate use of the drug, noting that without any predispositions to the disease, people should not incorporate chronic aspirin use as it can lead to gastrointestinal bleeding.

Moreover, Risch adds it still remains uncertain how aspirin contributes to pancreatic cancer reduction. He comments, "Pancreatic cancer takes 10 to 15 years to develop. We don t know if the aspirin is preventing the formation of new tumors or helping the immune system to control them later on. Empirically it seems to do something, and at this point that s all we can say."

ACSH s Dr. Gil Ross noted that pancreatic cancer is a feared type, given its vague presentation in the early stages and tiny survival probability when discovered after serious symptoms develop. One thing should be noted that has not been discussed yet: cigarette smoking is a major risk factor for this vicious killer, another reason not to smoke and to try and try again to quit.