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US researchers looked at 100,139 people who took part in the American Cancer Society's cancer prevention study who had no prior history of cancer and had been taking a daily dose of acetylsalicylic acid, sold in Canada under the brand name Aspirin.
In follow-up questionnaires, the researchers discovered 5,138 patients died from cancer.
The researchers found daily aspirin use was associated with an estimated 16% lower overall risk of cancer mortality, both among people who reported taking aspirin daily for at least five years and among those who reported shorter-term daily use.
The 16%, however, is much lower than the 37% reduction reported in other recent trials and studies. The researchers note the effects of long-term daily use on cancer mortality remain largely unknown.
Lead researcher Dr. Eric Jacobs said more research is needed.
"Although recent evidence about aspirin use and cancer is encouraging, it is still premature to recommend people start taking aspirin specifically to prevent cancer. Even low-dose aspirin can substantially increase the risk of serious gastrointestinal bleeding," Jacobs said in a statement Friday.
"Decisions about aspirin use should be made by balancing the risks against the benefits in the context of each individual's medical history. Any decision about daily aspirin use should be made only in consultation with a health-care professional."
The study appeared online Friday in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.