Other Health Benefits of Aspirin: A HealthCentral Explainer

ATsai Editor
  • While aspirin has long be used as an anti-inflammatory medicine to reduce aches, pains and fever, and more recently, to help prevent heart attack, stroke and blood clots in at-risk people, there may be some extra benefits to taking aspirin regularly. Here is what some of the latest research suggests.

     

    It may cut melanoma risk in women

    New research from Stanford University has found that women who take aspirin regularly have a lower risk for developing melanoma. In fact, the researchers also found that the longer the study volunteers took aspirin, the lower the risk, according to Medical News Today.

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    The study looked at data from 60,000 postmenopausal Caucasian women in the U.S., ages 50 to 79, who were taking part in the Women’s Health Initiative. Caucasian women were chosen for the study, due to the lighter color of their skin, which is a risk factor for melanoma.

     

    The women were put into three groups; those who did not use non-steroid anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as aspirin and ibuprofen; those who used non-aspirin NSAIDs, and those who used aspirin. The women were followed for 12 years, and all cancer that developed was recorded. Researchers discovered that women who took aspirin had a 21 percent lower risk for melanoma, compared to women who did not take aspirin. In addition, women who took the aspirin regularly reduced their risk by 11 percent after one year, 22 percent between one and four years, and 30 percent if taken for five years or longer. Researchers said that the findings are important, because aspirin could offer protection against other cancers.

     

               [SLIDESHOW: 7 Tips to Prevent Melanoma and Other Skin Cancers]

     

    It may lower risk for liver cancer

    Researchers have found that aspirin can reduce the risk for hepatocellular carcinoma, which is the most common type of primary liver cancer, and can also reduce the risk of death from chronic liver disease, according to Medical News Today.

     

    Researchers looked at data from 300,504 participants,  ages 50 to 71 years, who were enrolled in the National Institutes of Health-AARP Diet and Health Study. They reported their use of aspirin and other NSAIDs for 10 to 12 years. During that time, 250 cases of hepatocellular carcinoma and 428 cases of chronic liver cancer were noted. They found that participants who used aspirin had a 41 percent reduced risk for liver cancer, and 45 percent reduced risk of death from chronic liver disease.

     

    It may reduce ovarian cancer

    An October, 2012 study found that women who use aspirin on a regular basis cut their risk of developing ovarian cancer by 40 percent. The study looked at data from 756 Danish women between 1995 and 1999, who were participating in a malignant ovarian cancer study. Researchers also drew random samples from the general population, 1,564 women, ages 35 to 79. Results showed that women who took aspirin consistently cut their risk of ovarian cancer. However, those taking non-aspirin NSAIDs or other pain relief medications did not have a reduced risk. Researchers state that more research is needed to determine the correct dosage, frequency and duration of taking aspirin to completely understand its effect on ovarian cancer.

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    It may slow brain decline in elderly women

    Another study, published in October 2012, looked at the relationship between aspirin, brain decline and heart risk in elderly women. Researchers found that elderly women at high risk for heart disease and stroke, who took aspirin regularly, could ward off cognitive decline, according to Medical News Today.

     

    Researchers followed 681 women between 70 and 90 years old for five years. Of the study participants, 129 were already taking aspirin daily, and 601 women were considered high-risk for cardiovascular disease. During the study, the women underwent tests of cognitive and thinking skills. After the five years, they found that though cognitive decline occurred overall in the group, those who were taking aspirin reflected less. Researchers said that there could be a neuroprotective effect of aspirin on elderly women with high cardiovascular risk. However, they warned that people should not be self-medicating with aspirin to stave off dementia.

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            [SLIDESHOW: Five Ways Alzheimer’s affects women more than men]

     

    It may prolong survival in prostate cancer patients

    Men who take aspirin regularly and have been treated for prostate cancer with surgery or radiation could live longer, according to Medical News Today, particularly if they have the high risk form of prostate cancer.

     

    Researchers looked at data from 6,000 men who had prostate cancer and were treated with surgery or radiotherapy. Thirty-seven percent of the men were taking anticoagulants, including aspirin. They compared the risk of death from prostate cancer between those taking the medication and those who were not. The results showed that the rate of death over a 10-year span was 3 percent in the anticoagulant group, compared to 8 percent in the non-anticoagulant group. In addition, the risk of the cancer returning and spreading to bones was also lower in the anticoagulant group.

     

    When looking at a subgroup of men with high-risk prostate cancer, researchers found that aspirin reduced the risk of death in this group more significantly. There was a 4 percent rate of death in those with high-risk, compared to 19 percent rate in other risk categories.

     

    Researchers say that the aspirin seems to prevent the growth of tumor cells in prostate cancer, especially the high-risk form, which currently does not have very effective treatments.

     

    Sources:

    Paddock, C. (2013, March 11). "Melanoma Risk Lower In Women Who Take Aspirin." Medical News Today. Retrieved from http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/257481.php

     

    Paddock, C. (2012, December 1). "Aspirin Tied To Lower Risk For Liver Cancer And Death From Liver Disease." Medical News Today. Retrieved from http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/253407.php

     

    Kearney, C. (2012, October 10). "Aspirin May Help Prevent Ovarian Cancer." Medical News Today. Retrieved from http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/251299.php

     

    Paddock, C. (2012, October 6). "Aspirin May Slow Brain Decline In Elderly Women With Heart Risk." Medical News Today. Retrieved from http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/251160.php

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    Paddock, C. (2012, August 30). "Aspirin May Prolong Prostate Cancer Survival." Medical News Today. Retrieved from http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/249642.php

     

Published On: March 20, 2013