Will Daily Aspirin Prevent Colon Cancer or Threaten Health?



Taking daily aspirin could lower risk for colon cancer, according to an animal study published in Carcinogenesis.

We’ve all heard “an aspirin a day keeps the doctor away,” but aspirin may also keep cancer away. New City of Hope Hospital in Duarte, California, conducted a study on mice and found daily doses of 100 milligrams of aspirin causes colon tumor “suicide.” The study also discovered aspirin prevents bowel cancer from returning.

Benefits of Daily Aspirin

This is not the first study to praise the health benefits of aspirin. A 2016 study published in JAMA Oncology found long-term aspirin use correlated with a lower risk of gastrointestinal and colorectal cancer. Furthermore, the U.S. Preventative Task Force recommended “low-dose aspirin therapy for primary prevention of colorectal cancer for patients from age 50 to 59 years if they have a life expectancy of at least 10 years and are willing to take it for at least 10 years.”

Today, about six million Americans take aspirin on a daily basis to prevent heart attacks and stroke. Aspirin may also be instrumental in preventing inflammatory diseases like arthritis, Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s.

In spite of aspirin’s therapeutic benefits, doctors are increasingly concerned about the side effects of regular aspirin use. In 2019, the American Heart Association altered its guidelines about aspirin and suggested Americans should only take the drug if it is prescribed by a physician. Studies linked aspirin to increased risk of bleeding in the intestines and stomach, and brain bleeding that can cause strokes.

Aspirin’s risks should be weighed accordingly, but its impact on colon cancer prevention cannot be understated. Colon cancer is the third-leading cause of cancer death in the United States, and it is estimated that one in five Americans will develop colon cancer. According to the American Cancer Society, there will be 135,000 new cases of colon cancer diagnosed in 2020 and colon cancer will claim the lives of more than 50,000 people this year.

Who Should Not Take Daily Aspirin?

The good news is that you do not have to make the decision about whether to begin taking aspirin. Your doctor will look at your health history and advise you. Certain individuals should not take aspirin because the risks outweigh the possible benefits. You should not take daily aspirin if you:

  • Will be undergoing a medical procedure soon
  • Have an intolerance to aspirin
  • Are at increased risk for internal bleeding
  • Regularly drink alcohol

Colon Cancer Prevention: Call Your Gastroenterologist

Call your gastroenterologist to talk further about colon cancer prevention. The best way to protect yourself from colon cancer is to schedule routine colonoscopies. The American Cancer Society recommends all adults who are at average risk for colon cancer begin screening at age 45, but Medicare and many insurance carriers do not cover screening colonoscopies until age 50. Call your insurance provider to get the most updated information about your plan. Remember, colon cancer prevention is less expensive than colon cancer treatment. Click here for a list of GI centers in your area.