There’s a pill you probably have in your cabinet right now that may help to prevent colon cancer. This pill is both inexpensive and easy to find at your local drugstore, grocery store, or even your local convenience store.
What is this miracle pill? It’s the common pain killer, aspirin!
The results of two large studies published in the esteemed medical journal Lancet show that aspirin can reduce the risk of colon cancer by 37% when taken for five years or longer and by 74% when taken for 10 to 15 years. The aspirin dosages used in the studies was 300 mg or more per day.
Although these are, indeed, encouraging results, more studies will be needed to confirm these preliminary findings. It’s too early to recommend those with a normal risk of colon cancer take aspirin for prevention. Plus, the optimal dose of aspirin for colon cancer prevention has not yet been determined. It must be kept in mind that aspirin can have potential side effects such as the risk of bleeding from the gastrointestinal tract which may limit its usage in some people.
Just how much of an impact could this finding have? Colorectal cancer is now the second leading cause of cancer death in the United States and is the third most common cancer in men and women. A person’s lifetime chance of getting colon cancer is 5% in the U.S. These are indeed sobering statistics! That a widely available pill and inexpensive pill such as aspirin can reduce the risk by up to 74% is good news if further studies support these findings.
Until these results are confirmed by further studies and its been determined that the hazards of taking aspirin, such as bleeding, don’t outweigh the benefits, it’s recommended that both men and women continue to get screened by colonoscopy at regular intervals starting at age 50. If there’s a family history of colon cancer, your doctor may recommend you start a screening program earlier. Unfortunately, may people at risk for colon cancer are not following through on these screens. Colon cancer has a high cure rate if the cancer is detected while it’s still very small on colonoscopy. In addition, a colonoscopy exam allows removal of any polyps that might potentially develop in to colon cancer.
Should you be taking aspirin for colon cancer prevention? Because more research is needed to confirm that the benefits of aspirin outweigh the risk, it would be best not to start taking aspirin regularly until consulting your doctor. If you’re at high risk for colon cancer, he may recommend daily aspirin if you don’t have any underlying medical problems that may contraindicate its use.
My suggestion? See your doctor for a colon screening if you’re over the age of 50. If you have a family history of colon cancer, see your doctor earlier for a complete exam and possible early screening. Ask his opinion on the use of aspirin in your particular case. Don’t let this potentially curable disease become a problem for you. Take action to prevent colon cancer now by seeing your doctor.