AUG 11, 2020 11:12 AM PDT

Aspirin could accelerate cancer progression in older adults

Alarming research published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute points toward the association between aspirin use and increased risk of cancer and early death in older adults. While previous studies and clinical trials have shown that aspirin may reduce the risk of developing cancer in middle-aged adults, this study from scientists at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH), the Berman Center in Minnesota, and Monash University in Australia targets adults 70 years and older.

“We conducted this study as a more detailed examination of the effect of aspirin on the development of cancer as well as death from cancer," explained senior author Andrew T. Chan, MD, MPH, Chief of the Clinical and Translational Epidemiology Unit at MGH, Director of Epidemiology at the MGH Cancer Center, and a Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School.

The study, called the ASPirin in Reducing Events in the Elderly (ASPREE) trial, is the first randomized double-blind placebo-controlled trial of daily low-dose aspirin (100 mg) in healthy older adults. The 19,114 participants taking aspirin or placebo treatments were followed for a median of 4.7 years, after which the researchers saw an association between aspirin use and an elevated risk of death from cancer.

Dr. Chan and his colleagues concluded that aspirin was associated with a 19% higher risk of being diagnosed with metastatic cancer and a 22% higher risk of being diagnosed with advanced cancer. Although there was no association among the types of cancer developed, those who developed advanced cancer and were taking aspirin had a higher risk of dying during follow-up than those taking placebo.

"Deaths were particularly high among those on aspirin who were diagnosed with advanced solid cancers, suggesting a possible adverse effect of aspirin on the growth of cancers once they have already developed in older adults," said Dr. Chan.

Photo: Pixabay

While the scientists are still unsure about the way that aspirin might affect older people at the cellular or molecular level, they plan on conducting more research. In the meantime, says Dr. Chan, "Although these results suggest that we should be cautious about starting aspirin therapy in otherwise healthy older adults, this does not mean that individuals who are already taking aspirin--particularly if they began taking it at a younger age--should stop their aspirin regimen."

Sources: Journal of the National Cancer Institute, Eureka Alert

About the Author
  • Kathryn is a curious world-traveller interested in the intersection between nature, culture, history, and people. She has worked for environmental education non-profits and is a Spanish/English interpreter.
You May Also Like
OCT 07, 2020
Cancer
Delivering Cancer Drugs to Osteosarcoma with Nanoparticles
OCT 07, 2020
Delivering Cancer Drugs to Osteosarcoma with Nanoparticles
Over the years, cancer researchers have struggled not just with drug and diagnostic design, but with drug delivery. The ...
OCT 04, 2020
Cancer
Mutations form in specific genomic patterns based on external and internal factors
OCT 04, 2020
Mutations form in specific genomic patterns based on external and internal factors
New research published in Nature Genetics provides insight on the formation of mutations in the genome. Researchers from ...
OCT 26, 2020
Cancer
Investigating the Receptor Protein FPR1 in Brain Cancer
OCT 26, 2020
Investigating the Receptor Protein FPR1 in Brain Cancer
Amongst the more common targets for cancer therapies are cell surface receptors. These receptors are proteins – us ...
OCT 30, 2020
Cancer
Fighting mesothelioma with curcumin
OCT 30, 2020
Fighting mesothelioma with curcumin
Research led by investigators at Flinders University in Australia is spearheading new developments in cancer prevention ...
NOV 02, 2020
Cancer
Age impacts response to melanoma treatment
NOV 02, 2020
Age impacts response to melanoma treatment
Research from the Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center and Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health& ...
NOV 24, 2020
Clinical & Molecular DX
Young Inventor Creates Award-winning At-home Cancer Diagnostic
NOV 24, 2020
Young Inventor Creates Award-winning At-home Cancer Diagnostic
Getting a breast cancer diagnosis often means having to endure multiple tests, including some painful and invasive proce ...
Loading Comments...