Colon Cancer and Aspirin

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Story Updated: Apr 25, 2014

Taking aspirin regularly appears to dramatically lower colon cancer risk but only among people who carry high levels of a specific gene, new research suggests. The conclusion published in the journal Science Translational Medicine follows an analysis of aspirin-taking habits among nearly 128,000 men and women between the ages of 30 and 75.

The study team noted although everyone carries the so-called 15-PGDH gene only about half the study participants had it in high levels. Starting in the 1980's, and continuing until 2008 all participants were repeatedly asked how often they took standard-dose aspirin. During that time, 270 people were diagnosed with colon cancer. The study team determined that patients with low 15-PGDH levels did not see their colon cancer risk drop as a result of regular aspirin use. By contrast taking aspirin did cut colon cancer risk by as much as half among patients who carried high levels of the gene.

The investigators hope the finding will ultimately enable doctors to screen for patients who stand to gain the most cancer protection from regular aspirin use.

I'm Dr. Cindy Haines of HealthDay TV with the news doctors are reading health news that matters to you.

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