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"A daily Aspirin could help fight some cancers"

Globe and Mail

Source: Globe and Mail

Published: 07 Dec 2021

Category: Pharmaceutical

Rating: (2 stars)

Keywords: aspirin acetylsalicylic acid asa gastrointestinal cancers cancer cancer prevention

what they said (Hover the mouse cursor over underlined words for more info)

Households across the country count on it to relieve headaches and joint pain, but now more evidence is emerging to suggest Aspirin could play a role in cancer prevention.

New research published Tuesday in The Lancet shows people who take low-dose Aspirin every day have significantly lower rates of being diagnosed with cancer than those who don't...

The original article can be found at:

how did it rate? (more information)

Criteria Rating
Total Score 4 of 10
Availability of Treatment Satisfactory (?)
Novelty of Treatment Satisfactory (?)
Disease Mongering Satisfactory (?)
Treatment Options Not Satisfactory (?)
Costs of Treatment Not Satisfactory (?)
Evidence Not Satisfactory (?)
Quantification of Benefits of Treatment Not Satisfactory (?)
Harms of Treatment Satisfactory (?)
Sources of Information Not Satisfactory (?)
Relies on Press Release Not Applicable
Quantification of Harms of Treatment Not Satisfactory (?)

what we said (Hover the mouse cursor over underlined words for more info)

The news article highlights an important study around the use of low-dose aspirin in cancer prevention. The main drawback of this report is that it only provides readers with relative risk reduction numbers such as 30%, 35% and 40% for various types of cancer (lung, gastrointestinal, and colorectal, respectively). These numbers all sound impressive, but in reality, the benefit to the individual is much smaller. The original research (published in the Lancet) indicates that the absolute risk reductions values were around 1.5% for bowel cancer-that is a reduction from 4% to 2.5% when taking low-dose aspirin everyday.

The article includes another misleading bit of information when it says, "Aspirin, the brand name of the drug acetylsalicylic acid (ASA), is already known to prevent heart attacks or strokes in some people, particularly those who are at increased risk or have already suffered one, because it makes blood less likely to clot." A quick look on Google Scholar would have shown that this Aspirin hypothesis has been questioned in published medical research. In fact, a study published in March 2010 (Journal of the American Medical Association) involved almost 30,000 participants (men and women) and found that aspirin had no significant effect on heart attacks and strokes in low-risk populations.

While this story did mention some of the harms associated with taking daily doses of Aspirin, it did not discuss alternative prevention methods; there are many other things that people can do to prevent cancer (exercise, better nutrition, etc.) and including a brief discussion of these options would have improved the quality of this story.

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