Aspirin May Help Prevent Pancreatic Cancer?

MINNEAPOLIS / ST. PAUL(August 6, 2002)–Researchers at the University of Minnesota School of Public Health have found that aspirin use may decrease the incidence of pancreatic cancer, possibly through its anti-inflammatory effects. The study will be published in the Aug. 7 issue of the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

For seven years, lead author Kristin Anderson, Ph.D., an assistant professor in the School of Public Health, and her colleagues followed a group of postmenopausal women from Iowa who were part of the Iowa Women’s Health Study. These women were asked how often they took aspirin or aspirin-containing products and how often they took other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). Pancreatic cancer occurred less frequently among those women who had reported use of aspirin compared to those who had reported they did not use it.

“There is strong evidence to suggest that using aspirin may help in preventing pancreatic cancer, and what’s most encouraging is that we’ve seen these benefits in women who’ve taken aspirin two to five times per week,” said Anderson. “Based on these observations, we estimate that aspirin use might prevent 43 percent of pancreatic cancer cases in women who do not normally use aspirin. While these results are promising, further studies are necessary to learn more about other factors; such as dose, duration, and types of NSAIDs that may help prevent this disease.”

Anderson said that before starting an aspirin regime, it’s important for persons to consult their physicians. Several previous studies have provided evidence that NSAIDS may lower risk for pancreatic cancer, but this study is the largest to date.

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