A large scientific review which revealed that aspirin protected people aged 50-65 against gastrointestinal cancer, was unable to determine cancer benefits for those aged over 70.
International researchers, who analysed around 200 papers, explained there was ‘uncertainty’ about the balance of benefits versus the risk of daily low-dose aspirin in older people. “For example the balance of benefit-harm in usage above the age of 70 may be different since bleeding events become more common and serious after this age, but the cancer rates also become higher,“ researchers wrote. “(The) Ongoing ASPREE trial may help address the question of low-dose aspirin use in elderly.”
Professor Mark Nelson, (pictured) a chief investigator to the ASPREE (ASPirin in Reducing Events in the Elderly) study said the review highlighted the lack of available research in the elderly and the importance of the ASPREE study to answer this question.
“People over the age of 70 should not be looked upon as middle-aged individuals. Much like we wouldn’t assume medication used in children is the same as when used in adults. Our bodies change with age: our susceptibility to certain diseases change with age, as does our response to medication,” said Professor Nelson. “ASPREE is the only study in the world to determine whether healthy older people should or should not take aspirin to prevent diseases such as cancer, dementia and cardiovascular disease.”
The review, which was published in the Annals of Oncology journal, found that middle-aged people needed to take aspirin between 5 and 10 years to see the cancer benefit.
“While this study is interesting because it demonstrates a link between aspirin and cancer, it supports large randomised studies such as ASPREE to provide more robust evidence relevant to older Australians,” said Professor Nelson.
Researchers recommend anyone considering commencing daily aspirin or changing their aspirin regime, should speak to their GP first.