ASPIRIN LOWERS COLON CANCER RISK, BUT IMPORTANT EXCEPTION FOUND
New study finds aspirin or related drugs do not work in a minority of people with certain genes
By ZAN Syed
A NUMBER of studies have established that regular use of aspirin or ibuprofen reduces the risk of getting colon cancer for most people. But now researchers have found an exception saying that it does not work in a minority of people with certain genes. According to them, aspirin or related drugs can in fact increase the risk in people with certain genetic variants.
The new findings were published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) on Tuesday.
The study, on the basis of 10 large studies in Australia, Canada, Germany and the United States, seems to be a move on the way to precision medicine which aims to match treatments to the genetic make-up of patients.
Funded by US National Institutes of Health, the study involved 17,187 people – all of European descent.
Taking aspirin or ibuprofen regularly has been associated with about 17 fewer cases of colorectal cancer per 100,000 people.
According to Dr Richard Wender of the American Cancer Society and Thomas Jefferson University, the outcome of the study is scientifically noteworthy.
In an editorial accompanying a paper in the JAMA, he said: “In the not-too-distant future it will be possible to affordably and efficiently conduct genetic testing in healthy individuals to more accurately define benefits and risks of interventions intended to decrease risk of disease.”
“The ability to translate genetic profiling into tailored preventive care plans for individuals is still years away, but with the study by (Hongmei) Nan et al, the road, arduous as it may be, is more clearly illuminated,” he added.
Co-senior author Andrew Chan of the Massachusetts General Hospital Gastroenterology Division and an associate professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School is of the opinion that as aspirin and other anti-inflammatories carry risks, for example internal bleeding, health providers should consult with patients about the potential dangers and benefits.
He said the new study suggested that adding information about one’s genetic profile might help in making that decision.
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