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Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 2006 Oct;15(10):1785-90.

Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and subsite-specific colorectal cancer incidence in the Iowa women's health study.

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  • 1Division of Epidemiology and Community Health, School of Public Health, University of Minnesota, 1300 South Second Street, Minneapolis, MN 55454, USA.



Previous epidemiologic studies have shown that regular use of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) is associated with decreased colorectal cancer risk. However, few studies have examined associations between NSAID use and subsite-specific colorectal cancer risks. Because tumors of the proximal and distal colon differ with respect to their genetic alterations, clinicopathologic features, and demographic distribution, further investigation of subsite-specific colorectal cancer risks may be rewarding.


Data about aspirin and non-aspirin-NSAID use were recorded by self-report in 1992 among the initially cancer-free cohort of postmenopausal women in the Iowa Women's Health Study (n = 27,160). In total, 637 women developed colorectal cancer during the 11 years of follow-up, including 365 proximal colon, 132 distal colon, and 120 rectal cancer cases (11 overlapping and 9 not specified).


For colon cancer, the multivariable-adjusted hazard ratios (HR) for women reporting use of aspirin two to five times and six or more times weekly (compared with nonusers of aspirin) were 0.79 [95% confidence interval (95% CI), 0.59-1.04] and 0.76 (95% CI, 0.58-1.00), respectively. The corresponding HRs for non-aspirin NSAIDs were 0.63 (95% CI, 0.41-0.96) and 0.85 (95% CI, 0.63-1.15), respectively. For proximal colon cancer, the multivariable-adjusted HRs for women reporting use of aspirin or non-aspirin NSAIDs two or more times weekly (compared with nonusers of each) were 0.67 (95% CI, 0.51-0.87) and 0.71 (95% CI, 0.52-0.97), respectively. No statistically significant association was found between either distal colon or rectal cancer and aspirin or non-aspirin NSAID use.


Our study is consistent with a limited number of prior reports that have observed stronger associations between NSAID use and proximal versus distal colorectal cancer.

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