The study, funded by the U.S. National Cancer Institute and U.S. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, is published July 16 in the Annals of Internal Medicine. Aspirin has been long known for its protective effects on heart health, but the protective effect of aspirin on colon and rectal cancer has only been found more recently. “In the past three years, analyses of trials conducted for cardiovascular health have begun to show an effect on colon cancer as well,” Cook said. Cook and her team followed women enrolled in the Women’s Health Study, a trial that evaluated the benefits and risks of low-dose aspirin and vitamin E in preventing both cardiovascular disease and cancers. The study began in 1993 and ended in 2004. The women had no history of cancer (except nonmelanoma skin cancer), cardiovascular disease or other major chronic illness when they enrolled. The women assigned to the aspirin group were told to take a low dose — 100 milligrams — of aspirin every other day. The comparison group took placebo pills on alternate days. After the study ended, the researchers continued to follow more than 33,000 women through March 2012. The women were told to continue the regimen, although the researchers no longer provided the pills. The researchers tracked colorectal cancer, along with other cancers. They found the 20 percent lower colorectal cancer incidence over the entire 18-year follow-up.
Junk Food Linked With Colorectal Cancer Risk
“The finding of a positive association between the intake of ‘high-energy snack foods’ and CRC [colorectal cancer] is novel and remains significant after physical activity or BMI stratification,” the researchers wrote in the study. Fruit and vegetables juices also were associated with higher colorectal cancer risk, which researchers said could be “because fruit and vegetable juices have different properties compared with the whole fruit or vegetable they come from, as the majority of them contain sugars, preservatives and other additives.” Researchers said the new finding falls into line with past studies on diet and colorectal cancer risk, which showed that a healthy diet with lots of produce is linked with lower cancer risk. Last year, a review of studies published in the American Journal of Medicine showed that frequent fish-eaters had a 12 percent lower risk of colorectal cancer compared with infrequent fish-eaters. For more ways to lower your risk, click through the slideshow: Loading Slideshow Eat Fiber From Whole Grains Researchers from Britain and the Netherlands found that the more total dietary fiber and cereal fiber people consumed, the lower their colorectal cancer risk. For example, people who consumed an extra 90 grams of whole grains a day also had a 20 percent lower risk of colorectal cancer, according to the British Medical Journal review. However, that same study didn’t show a link between eating fiber from fruits and vegetables and a lowered colorectal cancer risk, meaning there may be something else in whole grains at work, too. Take Aspirin Researchers from the Leiden University Medical Center in the Netherlands found that people who take aspirin once a day have a 30 percent decreased risk of dying from colorectal cancer, if taken for at least a nine-month period. And, the benefit extended to after a person had been diagnosed with colorectal cancer. The researchers found that people who had already been diagnosed and who took aspirin had a 23 percent decreased risk of dying from the disease, compared with people who didn’t take it at all. Eat Chocolate (Maybe) The Daily Mail reported on a study in mice, published in the journal Molecular Nutrition and Food Research, showing that rats exposed to a carcinogen developed fewer colon cancer lesions than rats if they consumed high-cocoa diets. “Being exposed to different poisons in the diet like toxins, mutagens and procarcinogens, the intestinal mucus is very susceptible to pathologies,” study researcher Maria Angeles Martin Arribas, a researcher at the Institute of Food Science and Technology and Nutrition, said in a statement. “Foods like cocoa, which is rich in polyphenols, seems to play an important role in protecting against disease.” However, it’s important to note that this effect was tested only on mice. Consume Ginger Root Research published in the journal Cancer Prevention Research showed that taking 2 grams of ginger root supplement every day might have colon cancer-preventing powers.