Using aspirin for six months or more reduces the risk of some gastrointestinal cancers, study finds

aspirin tablets close up

Long-term use of aspirin can reduce the risk of several major types of gastrointestinal cancer and some non-gastrointestinal cancers, a 10-year population-based study has found[1]

Researchers carried out a matched-cohort study of a territory-wide database from all public hospitals in Hong Kong. Patients with aspirin prescribed for at least six months between 2000 and 2004 were extracted and matched with non-users in a 1:2 ratio. The average duration of aspirin prescribed was 7.7 years and the median dose was 80mg.

Cancer occurred in 15.9% of the 618,884 subjects and lung cancer was the most common.

Long-term use of aspirin showed a 24% to 47% significant reduction of major cancers in the gastrointestinal tract, including colorectal (24%), liver (47%), oesophageal (47%), pancreatic (34%) and gastric (38%) cancer. For non-gastrointestinal cancers, long-term use of aspirin only showed a significant reduction for leukaemia, lung and prostate cancers.

“The findings demonstrate that the long-term use of aspirin can reduce the risk of developing many major cancers,” said Kelvin Tsoi, research associate professor at the Chinese University of Hong Kong and lead author of the study.

“What should be noted is the significance of the results for cancers within the digestive tract, where the reductions in cancer incidence were all very substantial, especially for liver and oesophageal cancer,” he added.


[1] Tsoi K, Chan F, Hirai H et al. Long-term use of aspirin is more effective to reduce the incidences of gastrointestinal cancers than non-gastrointestinal cancers: A 10-year population based study in Hong Kong. Presented at UEG Week Barcelona 2017. Abstract available at: (accessed November 2017)

Last updated
The Pharmaceutical Journal, PJ, November 2017, Vol 299, No 7907;299(7907):DOI:10.1211/PJ.2017.20203844

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