Aspirin cuts down the risks for heart diseases and colon cancer

By Melisa Silver

Cardiovascular ailments are not uncommon in the present times. And so is the case with colon cancer. The increasing incidences of the two ailments is highly dependent upon genetic, environmental and lifestyle factors, all of which contribute equally to the rising frequency of these curses.

Heart and vessel diseases in most of the cases are mad-made wrath, thanks to the increasing consumption of fast foods and processed meat. This kind of an ailing diet puts even such persons into the doldrums of cardiovascular ailments, whose genetic and family medical records are free from the disease.

Colon cancer is also influenced by genetic and lifestyle factors. For example, an unhealthy diet which exposes the colon to injurious toxic substances too frequently can escalate the chances of developing cancer in the organ. Moreover, presence of colon polyps already puts one at high-risks for the disease, and any associated environmental factor can aggravate the course of the ailment, which can result in its progression into cancer.

Colon cancer can be detected early and hence treated in its initial stages. Descendants of the African American race, those with a positive family history, men over the age of 50 years, and those with polyps or at high risk for the disease are recommended to undergo a colonoscopy for early screening at every ten years, starting from the age of 45 years.

Heart ailments are not that simple to screen, however, continuously raised blood pressure is an indication towards an associated anomaly in the body. Such signs and symptoms if observed early, can halt their progression towards the development of cardiovascular disease.

Prophylaxis is also provided to people who are at the risk of heart disease and colon cancer. According to a recommendation provided by the U.S Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF), individuals over the age of 50 years who are prone towards heart disease and colon cancer development, must take a low-dose aspirin daily to cut down their risks.

Low dose aspirin= approximately 81 milligrams

Though the perks are somewhat reduced in this age group, but Americans over the age of 60 years and at high risks for developing heart diseases can also take aspirin daily. For those over the age of 70 years or under 50 years, not much evidence is yet available regarding the use of such a prophylactic method and reduction of risks.

Aspirin for colon cancer prevention was first advised in the year 2007, and that for heart ailments came out in the year 2009. Hence, these recommendations are not new. However, the use of this prophylactic treatment for both the advisories has been included together for the first time.

According to the USPSTF statistics, in the United States, about 30 percent of deaths are attributed to heart attacks and strokes, whereas colon cancer is responsible for about 50,000 deaths in the year 2014, and ranks third in the list of ‘most common cancers’. Dr, Kevin Marzo, who is the chief of cardiology at the Winthrop-University Hospital in Mineola, New York, says that, “Recommending low-dose aspirin for prevention of heart attack and stroke has been a cornerstone of risk reduction by cardiologists. Emerging data suggests low-dose aspirin may also reduce colorectal cancer.”

Hence it is now confirmed that those with high risks of these two diseases and those who fit the required criteria, must begin low-dose prophylaxis after obtaining their doctor’s advice. But the drug comes with a price. Aspirin is associated with ‘high risks of bleeding’ and so, the prophylaxis is followed by this caveat.

According to the Task Force Chair Dr. Kristen Bibbins-Domingo, who states in a news release that it is highly essential for people aged between 50-69 years to get a consultation from their primary care physician regarding their probability of developing cardiovascular disease and the risk of bleeding prior to going for aspirin-based prophylaxis. According to Dr. David Bernstein who is the chief of Hepatology at the Northwell Health in Manhasset, New York, the advisories regarding aspirin intake for reduction of risks make sense, however, its use must be made aptly in the required patients only, since the drug is associated with risks of bleeding.

The USPSTF says that aspirin for heart disease and colon cancer risk reduction is just one phase of prevention from the wrath. Patients at risk must also consider cutting down upon other factors that contribute to the development of the disease, such as a diet rich in fats, cholesterol and processed items, a sedentary lifestyle, unhealthy bowel habits, etc.

REFERENCE: Expert panel reaffirms daily aspirin’s use against heart disease, colon cancer