Daily aspirin reduces risk of developing and dying from cancer, say researchers

Taking a daily dose of aspirin can dramatically reduce the risk of developing and dying from cancer, especially from tumours of the gastrointestinal tract, researchers from Queen Mary University of London have found.

To reap the benefits, said the study, patients needed to take a 75-100 mg daily dose for at least five years, and preferably for 10 years, between the ages of 50 and 65. No benefit was seen while taking aspirin for the first three years, but an effect was then seen on incidence. Death rates reduced only after five years, and most of the benefits were seen after patients had taken aspirin over a prolonged period and then stopped.

The researchers collated the most recent systematic reviews from 51 clinical trials of the effect of aspirin on the incidence of and mortality from specific cancers and cardiovascular events.

The results, published in the Annals of Oncology, showed that aspirin could reduce incidence and mortality from gastrointestinal cancers by around a third. The effect was most pronounced in colorectal cancer, where it reduced incidence by 35% and mortality by 40%. In oesophageal cancer, incidence was reduced by 30% and mortality by 50%, and in gastric cancer these decreased by 30% and 35%, respectively.

The study also found strong evidence of a smaller effect on some other cancers. Aspirin reduced the incidence of lung cancer by around 5% and mortality by 15%, in prostate cancer incidence fell by 10% and mortality by 15%, and in breast cancer incidence reduced by 10% and mortality by 5%.

The study also showed that aspirin had a preventive effect on myocardial infarction: it reduced incidence by 18% and mortality by 5%.

The effect of aspirin on strokes was more complex: its use adversely affected haemorrhagic strokes but was beneficial for ischaemic strokes with a 5% net reduction.

Daily aspirin reduces risk of developing and dying from cancer, researchers find | The BMJ.

Drugs for Angina or cardiac pain!

Angina pectoris, which is more commonly known as angina, is severe chest pain caused by a lack of blood (ischemia) in the heart muscle.

The commonest cause of angina is blocks in the coronary arteries which cause obstruction to the blood flow.

The common drugs which are used to treat angina are as follow:

1. Beta-Blockers: This is a class of drug which reduces the heart rate. Thereby, they reduce the oxygen requirement of the heart. This causes relief in angina. 

The drugs approved for this condition are Metoprolol,  Bisoprolol, Atenolol, Nebivolol and Carvedilol. These drugs are started in normal doses and then increased till the time patient is free of his symptoms. Majority of the patients tolerate them well. They need to be monitored for the side effects like bronchospasm and slow heart rate. 

If a patient is unable to tolerate the beta-blockers, the alternative group of drug which can be prescribed is called Calcium channel blockers. Some of the drugs used are Diltiazem and Verapamil. They can be used in patients with lung problems as they have no effects on lung function unlike beta-blockers.

2. Aspirin: the commonest drug prescribed to all cardiac patients. This is an anti-platelet drug and thus prevents clot formation in the arteries. It is given in a dose of 75-150 mg a day. It should be consumed after food to avoid gastric irritation.

3. Statins: These are drugs which reduce cholesterol and triglyceride levels. The prevent the formation of plaques or blocks in the coronary arteries. They also reduce the incidence of heart attacks in the patients. The common ones used are Atrovastatin, Rosuvastatin, Simvastatin etc. They are to be taken after dinner for maximum effect.

4. Nitrates: There are drugs which cause dilatation of the coronary arteries and are very helpful in relieving angina. They can be taken by keeping the tablet below the tongue (Tab Sorbitrate) or consumed with glass of water. They are also available as oral sprays or skin patches. They can cause headache or giddiness as their side-effect.

Most of the patients with angina can be easily controlled with drugs and can be symptom-free (pain free). The non-medical options are angioplasty or bypass surgery which can be reserved for patients with intractable symptoms.