A new study by the United States Preventive Services Task Force has recommended that taking an aspirin a day might help prevent cardiovascular disease and colon cancer.
The task force found that people from the ages of 50 to 59 who have an increased risk of cardiovascular disease can lower their risk for heart attacks, stroke and colon cancer by taking an aspirin a day.
They group also found that people from the ages 60 to 69 can benefit as well, but should discuss the treatment with their health care provider first. The researchers, however, concluded there is not enough evidence to determine the benefits and harms of aspirin use in people younger than 50 or older than 69.
The Medical Division Chief at the Center for Advanced Heart Failure at Memorial Hermann Heart and Vascular Institute-Texas Medical Center, Dr. Biswajit Kar, said that the new findings from the task force provided a good evidence-based approach for managing a disease with therapy that has risks.
According to him: “Low-dose aspirin therapy has many proven benefits, including preventing heart attacks, strokes, and colorectal cancer.”
This would be the first time the task force has issued a recommendation on aspirin to prevent both cardiovascular disease and colon cancer for those age ranges.
However, the former task force chairman, Dr. Michael LeFevre, noted that there has been a significant empirical evidences that prompted the outcome of this recommendation since their last statement in 2009.
“What’s new is our recommendation that incorporates reduction of colon cancer. We combined the potential benefits for cancer with the potential benefits for cardiovascular disease. That’s new and I don’t think it is either widely known or certainly not widely incorporated into a decision that balances benefits and harms,” he said.
LeFevre further pointed out that in 2009, there were concerns that men and women were different in terms of their aspirin benefit profile, stating, “with the advance of science, we have decided that is not the case. The new recommendation applies to both men and women equally.”
The recommendation, according to him, applies to people who are not at an increased risk for gastrointestinal bleeding, who have at least a 10-year life expectancy, and who are willing to take low-dose aspirin daily for at least 10 years. It is also based on recent reviews that reaffirmed previous evidence about the benefits of aspirin for prevention of heart attack, stroke and colon cancer, the study stated.
Meanwhile, there has been much disagreement on the benefits of daily aspirin use. A 2015 study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine found that people who used a daily low dose of aspirin were less likely to have colon cancer. But another study that same year in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology found that people who were taking aspirin for preventive measures were at an increased risk for serious health problems, such as gastrointestinal bleeding and ulcers.
LeFevre stated that there was about a 60 per cent increase in serious gastrointestinal bleeds in people who took aspirin regularly in this study, but however noted that the benefit outweighs the risk.
“The deal with aspirin is we know we can help some people, and we also know we can hurt some people. We are moderately certain that the benefits outweigh the harms for men and women ages 50 to 59 who have a 10-year cardiovascular risk of 10 per cent or greater. That is the group we are most confident about,” LeFevre said.
He also said men and women ages 60 to 69 with a 10 per cent greater risk of cardiovascular disease will have benefits that outweigh the harms, but only by a small amount.