Aspirin can reduce the risk of throat cancer, according to a new study.
Aspirin is already known to help stave off a host of diseases, including arthritis, heart disease and strokes, and now researchers say it can reduce the risk of oesophageal cancer.
Last year, 7,610 people in the UK died from oesophageal cancer and in 2009, 8,161 people were diagnosed with the incurable disease.
But researchers say taking aspirin can reduce the risk of Barrett’s esophagus (BE), a condition which affects the cells in the throat and which is the largest known risk factor for oesophageal cancer.
The incidence of oesophageal cancer has been increasing at an alarming rate, with current attempts at targeted screening focusing on identifying BE.
Previous studies have found nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), particularly aspirin, have been associated with lower death rates for oesophageal cancer.
Although research has analysed NSAID and aspirin chemoprevention for oesophageal cancer or BE progression, few have explored whether the drugs can prevent BE.
Researchers analysed characteristics of 434 patients for factors that might be used in screening and management, discovering those taking aspirin were 44 per cent less likely to have BE.
Results in the Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology study also showed men were more than three times more likely to develop the condition than women.
The researchers warn people should not start taking high doses of aspirin to prevent throat cancer, but say further research is being done to see if aspirin should be a considered treatment.
Dr Chin Hur, of the the Massachusetts General Hospital Institute for Technology Assessment, said: ‘The protective effect of aspirin use appears robust because the analyses suggests a dose-response relationship in which high-dose aspirin was significantly associated with decreased Barrett’s esophagus risk.
‘It would not be advisable at this time for patients to start taking aspirin, particularly at higher doses, if preventing Barrett’s esophagus is the only goal.
‘However, if additional data confirms our findings and an individual at high risk for development of Barrett’s esophagus and oesophageal cancer also could derive additional benefits, most notably cardiovascular, aspirin could be a consideration.’