FRIDAY, Aug. 10 (HealthDay News) -- People who take a low-dose aspirin daily may not only be helping their hearts, but also reducing their odds of dying from cancer, according to American Cancer Society researchers.
The lower risk of dying from cancer associated with aspirin, however, may not be as great as previously thought, say the authors of the large new study.
And aspirin's possible side effects -- notably the higher risk of bleeding episodes -- need to be taken into account when considering its use, they added.
"Expert committees that develop clinical guidelines will consider the totality of evidence about aspirin's risks and benefits when guidelines for aspirin use are next updated," said lead researcher Eric Jacobs, the society's strategic director of pharmacoepidemiology.
Jacobs said, until there are new guidelines, he doesn't recommend taking aspirin for cancer prevention.
"Although recent evidence about aspirin use and cancer is encouraging, it is still premature to recommend people start taking aspirin specifically to prevent cancer," he said.
Even low-dose aspirin can substantially increase the risk of serious gastrointestinal bleeding, Jacobs pointed out.
"Decisions about aspirin use should be made by balancing the risks against the benefits in the context of each individual's medical history. Any decision about daily aspirin use should be made only in consultation with a health care professional," he added.
The study was published in the Aug. 10 online issue of the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.
To look at the potential effect of daily aspirin use on cancer deaths, Jacobs' team used data from the Cancer Prevention Study II Nutrition Cohort, part of a larger long-term study on the effects of lifestyle factors on mortality.
This study included more than 100,000 men and women without a history of c
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