Aspirin and Cancer Prevention: An Update

There are several recognized ways that you can reduce your risk of colorectal cancer, but is taking aspirin one of them? This week the US Preventive Services Task Force released their recommendations on aspirin, cardiovascular disease and colorectal cancer – a final take on their draft recommendations released last year.

After a review of the research, the task force recommends that 50 to 59 year olds who have a 10 percent or greater 10-year risk of cardiovascular disease and have no risk for bleeding take a low-dose of aspirin. For these individuals, they conclude, taking aspirin  five to ten years can reduce the risk for cardiovascular disease and colorectal cancer. Here, they graded the evidence a B, meaning that there is high to moderate certainty of a net benefit.

If you are between ages 60 to 69, taking aspirin should be an individual decision depending on  preferences and discussion with a health care professional, they write.

Last year we wrote about their draft recommendations, noting that AICR’s focus is on how diet, nutrition, physical activity and weight links to cancer risk, so we have no position on aspirin use and risk.Screen Shot 2016-04-13 at 11.01.09 AMWhatever your decision on aspirin, you should also know there is clear evidence that several healthy habits and a healthy weight link to lower risk. Many of these steps also reduce risk for heart disease.

Eating plenty of foods with fiber, limiting red meat and avoiding processed meats, exercising and staying a healthy weight all link to lower risk. AICR estimate that these lifestyle factors could prevent one of every two colorectal cancer cases every year.

Here are AICR’s key findings and the report on colorectal cancer.

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Obesity rates continue to climb, and that’s not good for cancer prevention

Both here in the US and around the world, obesity rates continue to climb. Today, for the first time, more people are classified as obese than underweight, finds a major new study published in The Lancet.

The findings have severe implications for cancer rates. Aside from not smoking, staying a healthy weight is the single largest risk factor related to cancer risk. AICR research links excess body fat to ten cancers, including colorectal, postmenopausal breast and esophageal.

Here in the US, if everyone were a healthy weight, AICR estimates that approximately 128,000 cases of cancer could be prevented each year.

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Alarming increases of colorectal cancer rates among young adults

Colorectal cancer is one of the most preventable cancers, yet it remains the third most common cancer among US men and women.

The good news is that rates have declined 30 percent among people 50 years of age and older, however incidence and mortality among individuals under 50 are on the rise and expected to climb. Among 20-34 year olds, rates of colorectal cancer have increased 51% since 1994 and in the period from 2010-2030, colorectal cancer in this age group is expected to increase by 90 percent.

At the Early Age Colorectal Cancer Onset Summit last week, I was one of the speakers talking about the concerning increase in this cancer among adults in their 20s through 40s.


Among 20-34 year olds, rates of colorectal cancer have increased 51% since 1994 – and in the period from 2010-2030, colorectal cancer in this age group is expected to increase by 90%.


Alarmingly, cancers in the under 50 population are diagnosed at later stages (most often due to delays in diagnosis) and appear to be more aggressive tumor types, both of which have implications for prognosis and survival.

What’s unknown is the cause of young onset colorectal cancer.

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