Low-dose aspirin to help reduce liver cancer risk

A recent analysis published in the New England Journal of Medicine determines that adults at a high risk of liver cancer and those who took low-dose aspirin were less prone to develop disease or die from liver-related illness.

The study was conducted by a team of investigators at Karolinska Institutet, in Sweden, and Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH).

Studies suggest the number of people affected by liver cancer and other liver diseases is increasingly on the rise in the U.S. and other European countries. In spite of the remarkable increase in the number, there are no established treatments to prevent the development of liver cancer and hence to reduce the number of risks to liver-related death.

For the study, the team examined Swedish registries on 50,275 adults with chronic viral hepatitis, which is a type of liver infection caused by hepatitis B or C virus and is also one of the most common risk factors of liver cancer.

A median follow-up of almost eight years revealed 4.0% of patients consuming a low-dose aspirin (less than 163mg/day) and 8.3% of nonusers of aspirin also developed liver cancer. Sources suggest Aspirin users had a 31% lower relative risk of developing liver cancer.

The study further also revealed that the longer a person consumed a low-dose aspirin, the greater were the benefits. The risk of liver cancer was 10% less compared with a short term use i.e. 3 months to 1 year, while became 34% less with 3-5 years of use and 43% less with 5 or more years of use.

The study also revealed that liver-related death occurred in 11.0% of aspirin users in comparison to 17.9% of nonusers over 10 years, for a 27% lower risk.

The benefits were noticed in spite of severity of hepatitis, sex or even type of hepatitis virus B or C. Furthermore, the risk of internal bleeding, an issue with long term aspirin use was not elevated among aspirin users.

“This is the first large-scale, nationwide study to demonstrate that the use of aspirin is associated with a significantly reduced long-term risk of liver cancer and liver-related mortality,” commented senior author Jonas F. Ludvigsson, MD, PhD, of the Department of Medical Epidemiology and Biostatistics at the Karolinska Institutet.

The team further also noted that personalized randomized controlled trials were necessary to test the benefits of aspirin with patients affected by liver disease.