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Researchers Find Over-the-Counter Pain Relievers Reduce Risk of Colon Cancer

According to a new study, some commonly available non-prescription medications may help prevent colon cancer.

But there is a downside.

People who take pain relievers such as aspirin or Ibuprofen, or other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs known as NSAIDs may find more than pain relief.

Dr. Andrew Chan led the study reported in the Journal of the American Medical Association about the link between aspirin, NSAIDs and reduced risk for colon cancer. "We did find that the regular use of aspirin and NSAIDs was associated with a reduced risk of colorectal cancer. However, it appeared that it really required prolonged consistent use of over a decade before we saw significant benefit."

In fact, it took at least 10 years, and patients took 14 tablets per week. Priscilla Groves was diagnosed with colon cancer last year. She believes in the research, "Maybe it should just be a part of everyone's regimen to do it unless you have a problem with your stomach and can't do it,” she said.

And that's a real concern. Participants in the study who took more than 14 tablets a week for ten years did halve their risk of colon cancer. But the researchers found that high doses of aspirin also caused a greater risk of bleeding in the stomach and intestines.

Dr. Chan says more research is necessary, "It would be nice to develop a pill that people could take to prevent cancer. At this point, I don't think we have that. I think we have a lot of research that suggests we're getting closer to that point."

According to Dr. Chan, regular screenings are still the best way to prevent colon cancer.