Research has shown that a regular dose of aspirin reduces the long-term risk of cancer in this who are overweight.

The findings came out of an international study of people with a family history of the disease conducted by researchers at Newcastle University and the University of Leeds. They found that being overweight more than doubles the risk of bowel cancer in people with Lynch Syndrome, an inherited genetic disorder which affects genes responsible for detecting and repairing damage in DNA. About half of those people develop cancer, mainly in the bowel and womb. However, over the course of a ten year study the team found that the risk could be counteracted by taking a regular dose of aspirin. The collaboration was led by Sir John Burn, professor of Clinical Genetics at Newcastle University and honorary consultant clinical geneticist at Newcastle Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust,who said:“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. “This research adds to the growing body of evidence which links an increased inflammatory process to an increased risk of cancer. “Obesity increases the inflammatory response. One explanation for our findings is that the aspirin may be supressing that inflammation which opens up new avenues of research into the cause of cancer.” The trial is part of the CAPP 2 study involving scientists and clinicians from more than 43 centres in 16 countries which followed nearly 1,000 patients with Lynch Syndrome, in some cases for more than ten 10 years. A total of 937 people began either taking two aspirins every day for two years or a placebo. When they were followed up ten years later, 55 had developed bowel cancers and those who were obese were more than twice as likely to develop this cancer.

Following up on patients who were taking two aspirins a day revealed that their risk was the same whether they were obese or not. The trial was overseen by Newcastle Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and funded by the UK Medical Research Council, Cancer Research UK, the European Union and Bayer Pharma. Professor John Mathers, Professor of Human Nutrition at Newcastle University who led part of the study, said:“The lesson for all of us is that everyone should try to maintain a healthy weight and for those already obese the best thing is to lose weight. However, for many patients this can be very difficult so a simple aspirin may be able to help this group.” Professor Burn said that anyone thinking of taking aspirin on a regular basis should consult their doctor first because aspirin is known to bring with it a risk of stomach complaints including ulcers. The international team are now preparing a large-scale follow-up trial and want to recruit 3,000 people across the world to test the effect of different doses.