Aspirin is perhaps the most underrated and cheapest life-extension drug currently available. It increases lifespan in mice and prevents heart attacks and cancer. A new study in the International Journal of Cancer reports that aspirin dramatically cuts prostate cancer risk.
Mainstream medicine has made it seem that prostate cancer is all but inevitable for men; it’s the second most common cancer in men. This may be true for men who follow mainstream advice and eat lots of carbs and sugar and don’t worry about processed food with lots of cancer-causing vegetable oils. Or men who allow their iron levels to get too high.
In any case, even for men who do follow conventional advice, low-dose aspirin use radically cuts their risk of prostate cancer. The study looked at men who had a diagnosis of coronary artery disease or cerebrovascular disease and either took aspirin or did not. In all, a total of 13,453 men were followed.
The results were adjusted for confounders, including age, smoking, obesity, excessive alcohol intake, and other medications.
It found that men who took low-dose aspirin for greater than 5 years had a hazard ratio for prostate cancer of 0.42, which equates to a nearly 60% reduction in that disease.
The men who took aspirin more than twice a week had a greater reduction in cancer.
Low-dose aspirin, for the purposes of this study, was considered anything less than 100 mg. In practice, in the U.S., low-dose aspirin is a baby aspirin of 80 mg.
There are a few reasons why aspirin reduces cancer, although somewhat speculative.
One, which the study emphasizes, is reduction of inflammation and, in particular, inhibition of cyclooxygenase (COX), which is overexpressed in tumor cells.
Another, which I emphasize, is that aspirin lowers levels of iron. Long-term aspirin users have lower levels of ferritin, the iron-storage protein. Aspirin is actually an iron chelator, and it causes minor bleeding which lowers iron levels over time. This can partially account for the lag time of 5 years seen in the full effect of aspirin on cancer.
Interestingly, aspirin also prevents metastatic spread of prostate cancer, which is the kind that kills people, decreasing the risk some 40%.
You should consult your doctor if you’re considering taking daily low-dose aspirin. For an idea of whether it would benefit you, see here.
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