The study also found that taking any NSAID regularly was associated with a reduced risk of colorectal cancer, compared to those who didn't use the painkillers.
The subjects and controls had been matched for age, gender and locale as well as smoking, alcohol and fiber intake, and the findings held true even after results were adjusted for weight, body-mass index and other factors, according to the study, which was published in the current issue of the journal Gut.
However, taking NSAIDs of any type before diagnosis did not increase survival time in bowel cancer patients or influence the risk of death from any cause, researchers noted.
Previous epidemiological studies suggest higher doses of aspirin (325 miligrams daily, or a standard adult-strength aspirin) and other NSAIDs reduce risk of colorectal cancer, said Dr. Andrew Chan, an assistant professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and attending gastroenterologist as Massachusetts General Hospital.
While the new findings are promising, since many Americans are already taking aspirin for cardiovascular disease, more research is needed before saying with certainty that low-dose aspirin is also effective, Chan said.
Because the study is retrospective, for example, it relies on people's recollections of aspirin use, which may not be accurate. The researchers also noted it was unknown whether the subjects with colorectal cancer continued to take NSAIDs after diagnosis, "which may clearly limit the conclusions drawn from the survival data presented."
"What is very well-established in the literature, based on prior studies and now this study, is that aspirin is clearly effective in reducing the risk of colorectal cancer," Chan sa
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