We’ve previously seen that low-dose aspirin use prevents cancer, and does so by a number of mechanisms, such as iron chelation and AMPK activation.

For this brief report, I want to note also that aspirin use prevents lung cancer.

The reason for doing so is that lung cancer is of course associated with cigarette smoking. If aspirin prevents lung cancer, then it says something about the mechanism of lung cancer as well as its ability to counteract tobacco carcinogens.

Report 1Aspirin and lung cancer in women. Odds ratio for lung cancer in women who used aspirin more than 3 times a week was 0.66, i.e. a 34% reduction in lung cancer incidence.

Report 2: Regular aspirin use and lung cancer risk. Odds ratio 0.57, and a greater reduction with longer duration of aspirin use.

Report 3: Chemoprevention of lung cancer by non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs among cigarette smokers. Huge, 75% reduction in lung cancer risk and “only heavy smokers were included in the control group”, i.e. a comparison of smokers with cancer and those without. Of interest, ibuprofen was also associated with lower risk, OR 0.39.

Report 4Aspirin Use and Lung, Colon, and Breast Cancer Incidence in a Prospective Study. 32% less lung cancer (and 30% less breast cancer). In this study, aspirin use was characterized only once, when participants answered a question as to whether they used aspirin in the previous 30 days. If they had used aspirin longer, presumably risk would have been lower.

I’m personally interested in this topic for 2 reasons: 1) I’m a former smoker, and cancer risk lasts a long time; I quit over 30 years ago, so knock on wood, but you never know; 2) it shows that aspirin, which is literally the world’s cheapest drug, has untapped potential for health.

Hundreds of millions of people globally smoke cigarettes, and aspirin could prove a huge benefit to them, since obviously many of them aren’t interested in quitting, or can’t quit.

Aspirin: saving more lives than statins at 1% of the cost.

By the way, green tea cuts lung cancer risk radically.

For more on cancer, see my book, Dumping Iron.

PPS: Check out my Supplements Buying Guide for Men.

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  1. Matt says:

    I’ve added baby aspirin to my supplement stack (3x per week), but I wonder if I’m too young to benefit from it (33). Have you come across any research that links age with the benefits of aspirin?

    • P. D. Mangan says:

      Hi Matt – generally, men over 50 are more likely to benefit. Seems to me a 3x week routine could do some good for a man your age though, minimizing risks and getting some of the benefit. This business with lung cancer has made me think that men under 50 could get a good deal of the anti-cancer benefit, though keeping in mind that the vast majority of cancers are in people over 65. As expected in this situation, the data is sparse so one has to make a judgment about risks/benefits.

  2. Scott says:

    Any benefit for those already diagnosed? My mom is starting chemo for stage 2 lung cancer next month, think she might have been on an aspirin regimen but she’s never been one to stick to good health habits.

  3. Nick says:

    Vegetarian, marathon runner, and now a smoker too? Anything else to confess about your misguided youth? 🙂

    I am so, so glad I never became a real smoker. I started at 17 and quit by about 20, though I could only get myself to smoke 5 – 10 cig’s a day, as it was just so nasty. I was so desperate to be cool.

    I’m going to start up aspirin. I’ll see what they have at the pharmacy down the street. Mom’s dad died of “intestinal cancer” in his early 60’s, her mom had esophegial cancer. So I guess it runs in the family. But they were farmers and probably ate sausage and taters daily. Non-smokers.

    • P. D. Mangan says:

      Ha, I wanted to be cool too. But, my Dad (a doctor) smoked, by grandfathers smoked, so I probably have the genes for it. Fortunately I just about never smoked more than 6-8 cigarettes a day, and quit in my late 20s. In my youth, everyone smoked, everywhere. Re esophageal cancer, alcohol seems to be the strongest risk factor.

      • Nick says:

        My dad also smoked…til he changed from theoretical nuclear phsyics to medical physics and started treating cancer patients. Cold turkey. He told sis & me that it was never a question of whether a lung cancer patient smoked, but how long and how much. (Which come to think of it, just means “lung cancer == smoker”…?)

        Grandma was not a drinker. But golly, they loved their taters and bread. She didn’t die of that though, lived on a few years after it was removed, into her 80’s. Mrs’s mother died of lung cancer, despite having quit years prior. Also upper midwest starchy lifestyle. And we just lost a not-so-close ex-smoker friend to lung cancer that had spread, early 60’s, vegetarian 20 or so years, starchy-starchy. But she had taken up interval training and burned off lots of fat in the last year before she suddenly fell ill, bless her.

        • Matt says:

          My grandfather died of lung cancer and never smoked in his life. He was an accountant in the 40s and 50s. Back then he was crammed in a room full of smokers all day, and this went on for decades, so he attributed his cancer to second hand smoke. So there’s one case of a non-smoker getting lung cancer.

          • Nick says:

            Didn’t mean to make light of cancer deaths, of course. And I happened to speak to my dad about this after writing the above yesterday. I asked him if he recalled telling me such things when I was young, when he was new in his new career back then. Of course he couldn’t, but said he wouldn’t say exactly that today. “Hmmm…maybe 99% of them were smokers.” He’s been retired a decade or so now.

            If we suspect iron delivered by smoke to be a/the culpret, it seems logical to me that prolonged exposure to heavy second-hand smoke could be dangerous indeed.

  4. Onlooker says:

    I’ve been taking a low dose aspirin myself for several years. Male, 54 yo. But with this in mind I really need to get the wife to add this to her routing as well. She’s a former smoker, 54 yo. She currently “vapes”, which is kind of an open question, it seems.

    She does have a sensitive stomach so I’m hoping this won’t bother her. (And she’s quite prone to psychosomatic affects so I have to find a way to tell her to watch for stomach affects without planting the seed for precisely that. 🙂 We’ll see.

    • P. D. Mangan says:

      If it’s any help, while vaping is a bit of an open question, it appears to be vastly safer than cigarettes.

  5. Laguna Beach Fogey says:

    I’ve been taking low-dose aspirin for a few years now. Also, drink a lot of tea, including green tea. Recently stopped drinking alcohol.

  6. Brandon says:

    Dennis, are you aware of any studies comparing high-dose vs low-dose aspirin for cancer prevention? I know for prevention of heart disease low-dose is considered as effective as high-dose but I can’t help but wonder if this is the same for cancer prevention.

    • P. D. Mangan says:

      Brandon, I suspect that high-dose aspirin prevents cancer better than low-dose, but the studies don’t discriminate on that and high-dose has higher bleeding risks. Higher-dose aspirin could, I believe, actually kill cancer cells, for which there’s in vitro evidence. I took a regular size aspirin tablet just this morning because I’ve been thinking about this issue. I’m going to try to up this dose too; although I was initially a little reticent to try, I recalled that I (and many others) used to regularly take 2 aspirin for a headache.

      Not a recommendation, just reporting what I’m doing.

      • Joshua says:

        HI PD — with regards to aspirin, it seems like it has a host of benefits with just one main drawback: the increased risk of intestinal bleeding. Do you have any thoughts on whether chewing the aspirin, rather than swallowing whole, might reduce the risk of stomach bleeding? I’m not talking about special chewable tablets…just about chewing regular, non-coated aspirin.

        • P. D. Mangan says:

          Hi Joshua – No, chewing aspirin wouldn’t help, because bleeding risk comes from acetylation of platelets in the bloodstream, so the mere presence of aspirin, whether it’s been chewed, swallowed whole, or taken IV, increases that risk. Chewing could conceivably mitigate stomach irritation/damage, but I know of no research on that.

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