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Anticancer Res. 2004 Sep-Oct;24(5B):3177-84.

Aspirin use and mortality from cancer in a prospective cohort study.

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Division of Molecular Epidemiology, NCTR, Food and Drug Administration, Jefferson, Arkansas 72079, USA.


There is evidence that use of aspirin offers several potential health benefits including cancer prevention and cardiovascular disease prevention. The purpose of this study was to assess the association between aspirin use and death from cancer and cardiovascular diseases with a special emphasis on cancer mortality.


The baseline data for this prospective cohort study were collected in 1971--1975 for the first National Health and Nutrition Examination Study (NHANES I) and 1976--1980 as part of the second NHANES (NHANES II) with mortality follow-up using the National Death Index (NDI) through December 31, 1992. The main analyses were the relative risks of total mortality and cause-specific mortality for persons who used aspirin compared to persons who did not use aspirin adjusted for confounding using Cox proportional hazards.


The proportion of aspirin users was lower among cancer cases than non-cases (58% versus 66%) and use of aspirin decreased with age. Consequently, age was a negative confounder attenuating the protective association between aspirin use and cancer and cardiovascular mortality. After adjusting for age, BMI, sex, race, poverty index, education and smoking, we observed a significant association of reduced all cause mortality among all aspirin users (relative risk [RR] = 0.88; 95% confidence interval [CI] 0.85 - 0.99) and lung cancer mortality among male aspirin users (RR = 0.69; CI 0.49-0.96). However, for women we observed adverse associations between aspirin use and bladder (RR=12.31; CI 2.98-50.80) and brain cancer mortality (RR=3.13; CI 1.09-9.00), although case numbers were small.


Aspirin use appears to offer protection from all causes of mortality and lung cancer among men. In women aspirin use is associated with increased risk of bladder and brain cancer. Because of the small number of female bladder (n=15) and brain (n=20) cancer cases in this cohort the findings require confirmation.

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