Do you have questions about whether aspirin is right for you? This is a great topic to discuss with your doctor during your physical… especially if you happen to be between the ages of 50 and 70! In your 50s and 60s, there exists the greatest potential benefit for aspirin use. A new study out this month shows a modest decrease in cancer mortality for both men and women with regular aspirin use over the age of 50. Doctors have recommended aspirin to reduce cardiovascular disease for decades. But the evidence is building to make the case for cancer prevention as well. Cancer mortality was found to be 7% lower for women and 15% lower for men who had taken regular aspirin for greater than 6 years between the ages of 50-69. This includes a dose range from as low as 2 baby aspirin a week up to a daily dose of 325mg aspirin. The greatest risk reduction has been seen in colorectal cancer, but regular aspirin use can also lower risk for breast, prostate and lung cancer as well.
It is interesting to note that this potential risk REDUCTION in cancer mortality is comparable to the effect size of the INCREASE in cancer mortality caused by obesity. But while aspirin may lower cancer risk, a healthy lifestyle and healthy body weight are indisputably the best medicine! I strive to spend time at the annual physical with each patient reviewing their individual risk factors for cancer and preventable diseases, and then reviewing preventative screening and strategies appropriate for that individual.
Of course, it is important to keep in mind that there are reasons why aspirin might NOT be a good idea. For patients at risk for gastrointestinal bleed, or already taking blood thinners, aspirin may pose a greater risk or may be completely contraindicated. This is why it is so important to discuss pros and cons of regular aspirin use with your doctor. Gastrointestinal hemorrhage and hemorrhagic stroke are risks that must be considered. But while not everyone should be on aspirin, it is important to consider whether aspirin could be right for YOU.
And FYI, if you haven’t yet scheduled your annual physical, don’t forget to take advantage of this important part of keeping you healthy! And for those over 50… add aspirin to the list of things to discuss.