Aspirin’s Potential to Prevent Some Cancers

Did you know low-dose daily aspirin benefits men and women in different ways as they age? Talk to your healthcare provider about whether aspirin is a smart move for you.

The Science of Aspirin and Cancer Prevention: What’s Known?

Scientific research tells us that aspirin can prevent heart attacks, strokes and certain cancers – especially colon and rectal cancer. Starting daily low dose aspirin may help you stay healthy if you:

  • Have already had a heart attack or stroke
  • Are between at least 50 years old and:
    • At risk for colon or rectal cancer.
    • At risk for a heart attack or stroke.

Special consideration may be needed for those 70 years or older. Most research shows no difference between taking low dose aspirin (81 mg per day) and higher doses. It takes many years for aspirin to help prevent cancer, so taking it is a long-term decision.

Aspirin and Cancer Prevention

We know that aspirin helps prevent heart attacks in men and strokes in women. Aspirin also shows great promise in preventing cancer. This is important because 1 in 4 deaths in the U.S. are due to cancer. Cancer is expected to increase by 57% worldwide in the next 20 years.

  • Half of all cancers can be prevented.
  • Many things we do to prevent a heart attack or stroke also may help prevent some kinds of cancer.

Things like not smoking, eating a healthy diet, watching our weight, keeping active, and possibly taking daily aspirin can help prevent cancer.

Aspirin and Cancer

  • Research shows us that people who take daily aspirin have less cancer, especially cancers of the colon and rectum.
  • Other cancers may also be prevented by taking daily aspirin.

Who Should Take Aspirin?

How to decide:

  • Aspirin should not be used by everyone.
  • Aspirin can help people who take it by preventing strokes, heart attacks and some kinds of cancer.
  • Aspirin can cause bleeding. So before starting aspirin, always first talk with your health care provider.

How Can Aspirin Prevent Cancer?

Blocks Inflammation

High levels of Inflammation increase our chance to get cancer. Aspirin reduces inflammation and also blocks cancer causing molecules in our bodies.

Changes How Platelets Work

Platelets are very small cells found in the blood that help our blood to clot. They also may keep cancer cells from being found by our immune system. Aspirin may reduce the spread of cancer cells by blocking platelet activity.

Aspirin Benefits

Aspirin may reduce some cancers by as much as 18% overall. It may help prevent:

  • Colon & Rectal Cancer
  • Prostate Cancer
  • Breast Cancer
  • Skin Cancer
  • Ovarian Cancer

Aspirin Problems

  • Bleeding from your stomach or intestines.
  • Bleeding into brain tissue that can cause a stroke.
  • Problems increase with age and are worse for men.
  • Bleeding problems are worse when you use more than 81 mg of aspirin.

Cancer Locations

Cancer at these locations in the body may be prevented by taking low-dose aspirin:

  • Women
    • Breast
    • Colon and rectum
    • Ovary
    • Skin (melanoma)
  • Men
    • Breast
    • Colon and rectum
    • Prostate
    • Skin (melanoma)

Talk with your health care provider about whether to take low dose aspirin to prevent heart attacks, strokes and cancer.


Aspirin’s Potential to Prevent Some Cancers (2-page PDF)

Posted on: January 29, 2018

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