Healthcare: On the Agenda - Aspirin can cut cancer deaths

In a nutshell

A study published in the The Lancet has shown that taking a daily low dose of aspirin substantially reduces risk of death from several common cancers. Researchers included Professor Peter Rothwell, of John Radcliffe Hospital and University of Oxford, and Professor Tom Meade of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.

What the study found

In the trial of 25,570 people, treatment with daily aspirin for five years or longer reduced the subsequent risk of colorectal cancer. Several lines of evidence also suggest that aspirin might reduce the risk of other cancers, particularly of the gastrointestinal tract.

PR strategy

The Lancet handled the PR for the story in-house. Anticipating significant media interest, a media advisory was sent out on 3 December, informing reporters of a press conference to be held at the Science Media Centre at 10.30am on 6 December. Just before the conference, a press release was issued with an embargo of midnight on 7 December. An audio recording of the conference was sent to those who could not attend.


The world's media latched on to the story. In the UK on 7 December, the study made TV and radio news, as well as the front page of The Times and page 4 of the Daily Mail, under the headline 'Taking aspirin every day could cut deaths by half'.

25,570 - The number of people trialled in the study

34% - The amount death rates fell for all cancers after five years of taking aspirin

Have you registered with us yet?

Register now to enjoy more articles and free email bulletins

Already registered?
Sign in