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Cancer deaths prevented by aspirin

Aspirin reduces the risk of death in patients with colon cancer by nearly 30%, according to a US study.

Researchers at Harvard Medical School in Boston looked at two large studies: the Nurses' Health Study and the Health Professionals Follow-up Study.

The report, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, suggests aspirin taken alongside surgery and chemotherapy could benefit patients who have colon cancer.

The drug is already known to reduce the chances of heart attacks and strokes, but its benefits for sufferers of colon cancer have been called into question due to its side effects, such as bleeding from irritation of the stomach or intestines.

The research examined nearly 1,300 people with colorectal cancer over a period of around 12 years. All the patients in the study had surgery for colon cancer and many also had chemotherapy.

The experts calculated that aspirin was responsible for a 29% reduction in risk of cancer death, taking into account other cancer risk factors, such as family history.

Study leader Dr Andrew Chan said: "This is certainly something patients would want to discuss with their doctors."

Copyright © Press Association 2009

Harvard Medical School