Aspirin Health News Should Remind Public of Vioxx Scandal
Many Americans over 45 already take a daily, low-dose aspirin to protect against cardiovascular events and stroke. Now a meta-analysis in this week's Lancet, the British medical weekly, reveals the low cost pain reliever may also be reducing their chances of getting cancer.
People who took a daily aspirin for more than four years reduced their chances of dying of cancer by 21 percent according to the data published this week. The longer they took the aspirin — up to twenty years — the greater their cancer risk reduction, said researchers.
While aspirin's ability to lower colon cancer risk was known, esophageal, gastrointestinal, lung, brain, and pancreatic cancers seemed to drop in the population of patients taking daily aspirin said researchers.
The trials were conducted to explore the vascular effects of a daily aspirin on patients but the authors found the risk of esophageal and throat cancer was reduced by 60 percent, colorectal cancer by 40 percent, lung cancer by 30 percent and prostate cancer by 10 percent.
In fact, aspirin's ability to reduce cardiovascular events and stroke and now cancer make it a candidate for long term health maintenance say doctors despite its stomach and intestinal bleeding risks. It may be better than certain screenings at reducing cancer, say researchers.
It has only been six years since the COX-2 specific inhibitor Vioxx was billed as a super aspirin that didn't have aspirin's "risk" by Merck. Widely advertised and pitched by Olympians Dorothy Hamill and Bruce Jenner, Vioxx turned out to double the risk of heart attack and was withdrawn from the market in 2004.
27,785 patients suffered heart attacks and sudden cardiac deaths on Vioxx, according to the FDA. Merck was also accused of concealing "critical data on an array of adverse cardiovascular events," by the New England Journal of Medicine.
Bextra, a COX-2 specific inhibitor similar to Vioxx, was withdrawn in 2005 for similar reasons. In fact patients taking Bextra after heart surgery were 2.19 times more likely to suffer a stroke or heart attack said American Heart Association information. And last year Pfizer agreed to pay $2.3 billion for fraudulent marketing of Bextra and three other drugs.
But Celebrex, a third COX-2 specific inhibitor, is still widely promoted as a pain reliever regardless of the risks belonging to the entire class of drugs. Nor do ads, recommending it for arthritis relief, mention that 21 of Celebrex' original pain studies relied on fraudulent data fabricated by Dr. Scott S. Reuben, former chief of acute pain at Baystate Medical Center and a paid Pfizer spokesman? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Celebrex
Idaho patient Marilyn H., a retired X-ray technician, told a reporter that Celebrex' blood-related side effects caused her knee replacement bone graft to become necrotic. And Canadian Timothy Moorley says a toe and finger had to be amputated on Celebrex in addition to major leg surgery being required. He is only in his thirties.
This week the medical press is trumpeting a possible new indication for Celebrex for skin cancer, though "cardiovascular risk may not make it a long-term strategy," according to HealthDay.
Meanwhile, lowly aspirin, which COX-2 specific inhibitors were billed as superior to, helps instead of hurts the heart — at the same time it may lower cancer risks.