Taking Low-Dose Aspirin May Reduce Liver Cancer Risk

Adults at high risk of liver cancer may lower their odds by taking low-dose aspirin, according to the results of study published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

“Rates of liver cancer and of mortality from liver disease are rising at an alarming pace in U.S. and European countries. Despite this, there remain no established treatments to prevent the development of liver cancer, or to reduce the risk of liver-related death,” said lead author Tracey Simon, MD, MPH, investigator in the Division of Gastroenterology and Hepatology at MGH in a press release.

To conduct their analysis, researchers assessed 50,275 adults who had chronic viral hepatitis using information obtained from Swedish registries. During an average follow-up period of nearly 8 years, the results showed that only 4% of patients with took low-dose aspirin developed liver cancer compared to 8% of nonusers. Furthermore, the study showed that the longer a person took low-dose aspirin, the greater the benefit. Compared with short-term use (3 months to 1 year), the risk of liver cancer was 10% lower for 1-3 years of use, 34% lower for 3-5 years of use, and 43% lower for 5 or more years of use. The researchers also observed that liver-related deaths occurred in 11% of aspirin users compared with 17.9% of nonusers over 10 years, for a 27% lower risk.

“This is the first large-scale, nationwide study to demonstrate that the use of aspirin is associated with a significantly reduced long-term risk of liver cancer and liver-related mortality,” said senior author Jonas F. Ludvigsson, MD, PhD, of the Department of Medical Epidemiology and Biostatistics at the Karolinska Institute.