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Apr 24, 2014 10:33 AM EDT

Aspirin May Halve The Risk Of Colon Cancer In People With Specific Genes

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Aspirin may reduce the risk of colon cancer among people with high levels of a specific type of gene, according to a recent study Counsel and Heal reported.

Researchers found that people whose colons have high levels of a specific gene product called 15-15-hydroxyprostaglandin dehydrogenase (15-PGDH) RNA are benefit dramatically from aspirin. Their risk of colon cancer was cut by half.

The analgesic provides no benefit to people whose colons have low levels of 15-PGDH.

"There is very strong evidence that aspirin reduces the risk of colon cancer, but we're not yet at the point where we're recommending that treatment,"  study co-author Dr. Andrew Chan, an associate professor at Harvard Medical School and gastroenterologist at Massachusetts General Hospital, told HealthDay.

However, Chan said the new study "provides proof that we may be able to go beyond traditional risk factors to try to determine if someone can benefit from aspirin therapy."

 For the study, researchers analyzed data and other materials from two-long-term studies that involved nearly 128,000 participants.

"This finding that aspirin can prevent colon cancer in certain individuals is an easy and cost-effective addition to our arsenal in the fight against the second-leading cancer killer," Katie Couric, founder of the initiative Entertainment Industry Foundation's National Colorectal Cancer Research Alliance, said in a statement. "I am proud to see this valuable research advancing patient care for those at risk of colon cancer resulting from NCCRA support."

Couric added that prevention, early detection and effective treatments are essential to conquering cancer. The American television journalist and talk show host said she lost her 42-year-old husband, Jay Monahan, to colon cancer in 1998 and has been a steadfast advocate for colon cancer prevention efforts in the years since.

According to the American Cancer Society, the lifetime risk of colon cancer is 1 in 20.

The findings were recently published in the journal Science Translational Medicine.

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