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Aspirin Or NSAIDs Will not Prevent Colorectal Cancer

People who are at average risk for colorectal cancer, including those with a family history of the disease, should not take aspirin or non-steroidal// anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) to try to prevent the disease.

This is the first time the Task Force has made a recommendation related to taking medicines to prevent colorectal cancer. After reviewing the latest evidence on the topic, the Task Force found that the potential harms of taking more than 300 mg per day of aspirin or NSAIDs--which can include increased risks for stroke, intestinal bleeding or kidney failure--outweigh the potential benefits of colorectal cancer prevention.

Meanwhile, patients taking aspirin to prevent other conditions such as heart disease should continue to discuss the benefits with their clinicians, according to Task Force Chair Ned Calonge, M.D., who is also Chief Medical Officer and State Epidemiologist for the Colorado Department of Public Health and Information. The Task Force found good evidence that taking low doses of aspirin (usually less than 100 mg) can reduce risk for heart disease but does not reduce the rate of colorectal cancer. In 2002, the Task Force strongly recommended that clinicians discuss the use of aspirin as a preventive medication with adults who are at increased risk for heart disease and that those discussions should address the potential benefits and harms of aspirin therapy.

Colorectal cancer is the third most common type of cancer in men and women and is the second-leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the United States. About 56,000 Americans die from colorectal cancer and 150,000 new cases are diagnosed each year. Between 5 percent and 6 percent of people develop colorectal cancer in their lifetime, and the majority of those diagnosed are over the age of 50.

Twenty percent of individuals diagnosed with colorectal cancer have a first- or second-degree relative with the disease, and African Americans have th
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