The long-term risk of cancer in those who are overweight can be reduced by regular doses of aspirin, a new Leeds study has claimed.
Researchers from the University of Leeds and Newcastle University have found that being overweight more than doubled the risk of bowel cancer in people with Lynch Syndrome.
The inherited genetic disorder affects genes responsible for detecting and repairing DNA damage, meaning around half the people with it develop cancer, mainly in the bowel and womb.
But a 10-year study found this risk could be counteracted with a regular dose of aspirin.
Professor Tim Bishop, from the School of Medicine at the University of Leeds, said: “Our study suggests that the daily aspirin dose of 600mg per day removed the majority of the increased risk associated with higher body mass index.”
He warned that a further study needs to show the same results to confirm the protective power of aspirin but the study’s findings could have broad implications.
The trial involved scientists and clinicians from more than 43 centres in 16 countries and followed nearly 1,000 patients with Lynch Syndrome, in some cases for over 10 years. Patients took two aspirins or a placebo every day for two years, before being followed up years later.
Prof Sir John Burn, professor of clinical genetics at Newcastle University who led the international research collaboration, added: “This is important for people with Lynch Syndrome but affects the rest of us too.
“Lots of people struggle with their weight and this suggests the extra cancer risk can be cancelled by taking an aspirin.”
Prof Burn also said that people should be aware of the risk of stomach complaints associated with aspirin.
A large scale follow-up trial is now expected with 3,000 people across the world testing the effects of different doses of aspirin.