Aspirin "Lunch"by Damian Gadal is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Aspirin Linked to Reduced Risk of Some GI Cancers Interview with:
Dr Cristina Bosetti PhD
Head of the Unit of Cancer Epidemiology
Mario Negri Department of Oncology
Milan Italy What is the background for this study?

Response: Aspirin has been known since long time to have a beneficial effect in the primary and secondary prevention of cardiovascular diseases. Additional evidence indicates that it has also a favorable role on the risk of various cancers. What are the main findings?

Response: In our work, we collected all the evidence on the preventive role of aspirin on digestive tract cancers (including the colorectum, stomach, esophagus, liver and pancreas) coming from over 110 epidemiological studies published up to 2019. After evaluation of all these studies, we further quantified the protective effect of aspirin on those cancers, with reductions of risk for regular aspirin use ranging between 22 and 40%. In particular, we found a protection for colorectal cancer also at low daily doses (75-100 mg), which increases for increasing doses. Moreover, the longer aspirin use, the stronger the protection against colorectal cancer, at least up to 10 years of use.

The study also provides new evidence of a beneficial effect of aspirin use also on liver and pancreatic cancer, two of the most lethal neoplasms. What should readers take away from your report? 

Response: A large body of evidence indicates that aspirin has a beneficial effect on digestive tract cancers, particularly those of the bowel. This can be particularly relevant for adults (over 50 years) with an already high individual risk of colorectal cancer, which are those to have more likely the greatest benefits from aspirin use. Aspirin for cancer prevention should in any case be used in consultation with a doctor, to take also into consideration the possible risk of bleeding. What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this work?

Response: Additional studies should be conducted on neoplasms other than colorectal. Moreover, ongoing primary prevention trials on colorectal and other cancers will provide additional relevant support to a causal role of aspirin on the risk of digestive tract cancers.

The study was supported by a grant from Bayer AG to my research Institute.


  1. Bosetti, C. Santucci, S. Gallus, M. Martinetti, C. La Vecchia. Aspirin and the risk of colorectal and other digestive tract cancers: an updated meta-analysis through 2019. Annals of Oncology, 2020; DOI: 10.1016/j.annonc.2020.02.012



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Last Updated on April 17, 2020 by Marie Benz MD FAAD