Vitality

Aspirin May Reduce Risk Of Colon Cancer In Obese Patients Who Also Have Lynch Syndrome

aspirin
For obese patients predisposed to colon cancer, aspirin may do the trick. brx0, CC BY-SA 2.0.

A new study is finding that obesity can increase your risk of developing bowel cancer by 2.75 percent, but adding a daily aspirin regimen to your routine could potentially reduce these effects. Led by researchers from Newcastle University and the University of Leeds, UK, the study conducted a comprehensive, international overview of people with a family history of the disease. The findings are published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

To start their analysis, researchers specifically looked at individuals with Lynch syndrome, a genetic disorder that affects the genes meant to find and fix damaged DNA. This disorder is also associated with an increased risk of developing colon cancer; doctors believe that out of every 100 colon cancer cases, three can be attributed to Lynch syndrome, says Mayo Clinic. In order to combat the common end results of this disease, researchers decided to put an aspirin regimen to the test over the course of 10 years.

According to Professor Sir John Burn of the Clinical Genetics department at Newcastle University, though their study was only conducted on those with Lynch syndrome, the evidence could have repercussions for the rest of us. As obesity is becoming increasingly linked to cancer risk, the potential of aspirin could be extended beyond people with this genetic disorder.

“This research adds to the growing body of evidence which links an increased inflammatory process to an increased risk of cancer,” Burn said in a press release. “Obesity increases the inflammatory response. One explanation for our findings is that the aspirin may be suppressing that inflammation which opens up new avenues of research into the cause of cancer.”

Burn and his team’s research happens to be part of the larger study CAPP 2, encompassing 43 centers’ worth of scientists and clinicians from 16 countries. For this branch of the study, researchers examined 937 people over the course of 10 years; some were given a daily aspirin dosage of 600 mg for two years, while others were given a placebo.

After the 10-year period, researchers followed up with participants, finding that 55 had developed bowel cancer. What’s more, obese patients were found to be more than twice as likely to develop this type of cancer. But, for those who were given the aspirin, the risk of developing colon cancer while obese was the same as if they were not overweight; in other words, the risk had decreased.

Professor John Mathers, of the Human Nutrition department of Newcastle University said that the main culprit when it came to bowel cancer was obesity. “For those with Lynch syndrome, we found that every unit of BMI above what is considered healthy increased the risk of bowel cancer by seven percent,” he said. “What is surprising is that even in people with a genetic predisposition for cancer, obesity is also a driver of the disease.”

Mathers also says that the best way to avoid the risk of colon cancer is to try and maintain a healthy weight. For those struggling with weight, though, and have Lynch syndrome, an aspirin regimen can most certainly help.

Professor Tim Bishop of the University of Leeds is hopeful for their study, saying that aspirin has the potential to eliminate the increased risk obesity poses for Lynch syndrome patients entirely. However, he does believe that extra research needs to be done to “confirm the extent of the protective power of the aspirin with respect to BMI.”

And this larger scheme of research will be coming soon; the team is already looking to conduct an international follow-up study including 3,000 people across the world. They hope to examine how two aspirin a day compared to lower doses could change the range of protection they found within their first study.

For those who are considering an aspirin regimen to reduce cancer risk, Professor Burns says to consult a doctor first, because aspirin is often linked to stomach issues like ulcers. However, he adds, for those who have an exceptional risk of developing colon cancer thanks to Lynch syndrome, the pros may outweigh the cons of adapting aspirin daily.

Source: Bishop T, Mathers J, Burn J, et al. Obesity, Aspirin, and Risk of Colorectal Cancer in Carriers of Hereditary Colorectal Cancer: A Prospective Investigation in the CAPP2 Study. Journal of Clinical Oncology. 2015. 

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