Aspirin has been a go-to for millions of people all over the world as a preventative measure for heart issues but now there is evidence suggesting that it can actually aid in warding off liver problems including cancer.
According to study author Vikrant Sahasrabuddhe of the National Cancer Institute in Rockville, Maryland as well as colleagues, aspirin and other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs or NSAIDS users were 41 percent less likely to develop liver cancer and 45 percent less likely to die from chronic liver disease than non-users.
Examples of NSAIDs include ibuprofen such as Advil or Motrin, naproxen such as Aleve and prescriptions like Celebrex.
ABC News reports on Friday that other NSAIDs were also linked to a lower risk of death from chronic liver disease but not with less liver cancer, according to the study of more than 300,000 middle-age and older adults.
“These associations are prominent with the use of aspirin and if confirmed, might open new vistas for chemoprevention of hepatocellular carcinoma and chronic liver disease,” the study authors wrote in the December 5 issue of the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.
Dr. Boris Pasche, an oncologist at the University of Alabama at Birmingham states, “We are seeing a growing body of evidence suggesting that taking aspirin long-term prevents the development of several types of cancer.”
Like anything else, there are other experts who are not so easily convinced. Isra Levy and Dr. Carolyn Pim from the University of Ottawa and Ottawa Public Health in Ontario, Canada suggest that there are already good strategies that don’t raise bleeding risk the way NSAIDs do.
They wrote, “In practice, we know and understand the causes of most cases of chronic liver disease and primary liver cancer: viral infections, especially hepatitis B virus (HBV) and hepatitis C virus (HCV) and alcohol. And we already have cheap, readily available interventions to prevent a substantial majority of such diseases.”
The NIH-AARP study results may be good enough to warrant a prospective trial to see whether the benefit would outweigh the risk involved.
According to CBS News, the study looked at more than 300,000 men and women between the ages of 50 and 71 years old who were enrolled in an AARP diet and health study. Participants on average were tracked for 10 to 12 years and reported their use of both aspirin and NSAIDs throughout the study period.
Considering that each year 29,000 Americans are diagnosed with liver cancer with close to 70% of that amount losing their lives to the disease, this discovery may just be life altering. Let’s hope so.