Long-term aspirin-use may reduce the risk of gastrointestinal (GI) cancer, though this benefit may not extend to non-GI malignancies such as breast or kidney cancers, according to a presentation at the 2017 United European Gastroenterology (UEG) Week.1

GI cancers account for nearly 25% of cancers and approximately 30% of cancer-related mortalities in Europe. Previous studies demonstrate that aspirin may act as a chemopreventive agent for colorectal and other cancers.

For this matched-cohort study, researchers analyzed the outcomes of 618,884 patients from a database of all public hospitals in Hong Kong. Eligible patients were prescribed aspirin long term (longer than 6 months, average duration of use: 7.7 years), and were matched with non-users in 1:2 ratios. The investigators evaluated the incidence of GI cancers compared with non-GI cancers.

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After following 14-year patient outcomes, the researchers found that 15.9% (98,533) of patients developed cancer.

Compared with non-users, aspirin-users had a reduced risk of major GI tract cancers of 24% to 47%, including colorectal (24%; odds ratio [OR], 0.76; 95% CI, 0.73-0.78), liver (47%; OR, 0.53; 95% CI, 0.51-0.56), esophageal (47%; OR, 0.53; 95% CI, 0.49-0.59), pancreatic (34%; OR; 0.66; 95% CI, 0.60-0.71), and stomach (38%; OR, 0.62; 95% CI, 0.58-0.65) cancers.

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Regarding non-GI cancers, long-term aspirin-use significantly reduced the risk of leukemia, lung, and prostate cancers, but this benefit was not seen for multiple myeloma, bladder, kidney, and breast cancers.


  1. Tsoi KK, Chan FC, Hirai HW, Sung JJ. Long-term use of aspirin is more effective to reduce the incidences of gastrointestinal cancers than non-gastrointestinal cancers: a 10-year population based study in Hong Kong. Presented at: 2017 United European Gastroenterology Week; October 28-November 1, 2017; Barcelona, Spain; abstract 109.