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Question for Department of Health

UIN 205824, tabled on 15 July 2014

To ask the Secretary of State for Health, what discussions he has had with the British Medical Association and cancer groups on studies of the potential effects of aspirin on cancer.

Answered on

21 July 2014

We know that research carried out so far shows that taking a low dose of aspirin daily may lower the risk of getting cancer and it may lower the risk of some cancers spreading to other parts of the body. However, aspirin can cause serious side effects such as internal bleeding and we have to be certain that the benefits of taking aspirin outweigh the risks.

The third annual report of Improving Outcomes: A Strategy for Cancer, published in December 2013 reported that an international consensus statement on the use of aspirin in the general population has been developed by experts around the world, but is awaiting publication. Once the international consensus statement is published, we will assess what this means for policy in England, such as when the benefits might be outweighed by the disadvantages (particularly, the increased risk of gastric bleeds) and how best to manage the use of aspirin for prevention and treatment of cancer.

Cancer Research UK advises that anyone thinking of taking aspirin to reduce the risk of getting cancer should talk to their doctor first.

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