Aspirin for Bowel Cancer
Aspirin is such a versatile drug, and now you can add one more indication for it. Put simply, taking Aspirin from the age of 50 for a minimum of 2.5 years will reduce your risk of bowel cancer, period! This is exciting news because bowel cancer is one of the most common forms of cancer, and is a significant contributor to death from cancer. This is basically called chemoprophylaxis, which means taking a medication to prevent the advent of an event, in this instance, cancer.
Basically, there are two categories when it comes to when to start taking Aspirin. If you have no personal or family history of bowel cancer, the guidelines recommend starting when you hit 50 years of age, by taking 100 mg per day (so called low dose Aspirin). However, if you do have a personal and/or family history of bowel cancer, generally you start taking Aspirin at an earlier age, but it's fair to say, you would also be monitored more closely by your doctor with for example colonoscopy.
In Australia, we have the National Bowel Screening Program which is fantastic. All you have to do is wait to receive a package from them, complete it and send it back with a sample. This screening program is actually very effective, but participation is only ~35%. This is a little disappointing considering the impact this program can have on the health of the general population. It is also why this blog entry was created. It is important to spread the awareness regarding bowel cancer, and more importantly, that we can actually screen for it, take Aspirin to prevent it, and the important of early detection and treatment.