Healthcare: On the Agenda - Aspirin reduces bowel cancer risk

- In a nutshell

Taking a daily dose of aspirin could reduce your chances of getting bowel cancer by one-third, researchers at University of Edinburgh have found.

- Why is the research so important?

Bowel cancer is the third most common form of the disease in Britain and 90 per cent of cases could be treated successfully if they were caught early. But currently, nearly half of new diagnoses prove incurable. Factors such as a poor diet, lack of exercise and drinking too much all raise the risk of developing bowel cancer.

- What did the report find?

Taking 75mg of aspirin every day for one to three years led to a 19 per cent reduction in the risk of developing bowel cancer, and after five to ten years the risk was reduced 31 per cent. The evidence, published online in the journal Gut, found that even those who were not at high risk could appreciate a positive effect over time. Doubling the dose had no extra benefit, however, and taking aspirin was not as effective as leading a healthy lifestyle.

- PR strategy

The charity Beating Bowel Cancer received an alert from the BMJ, under embargo until midnight on Wednesday of last week, and sent out its own press release two hours later with a quote from the CEO.

- Media coverage

The story appeared on the front page of the Daily Express under the headline 'Aspirin stops bowel cancer'. It also featured on page five of the Daily Mail and was picked up by The Daily Telegraph.

16k people die of bowel cancer in the UK every year

31% reduction in risk of bowel cancer after five to ten years' daily aspirin taking

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