Aspirin Affects Colorectal Cancer Risk Differently Based on Genetic Differences

Aspirin affects the risk of colorectal cancer differently among individuals based on genetic variances in the BRAF gene. These results were recently published in JAMA – The Journal of the American Medical Association.

Results from prior studies have indicated a potential association between aspirin use and a reduction in the risk of developing colorectal cancer. However, results have not been consistent and researchers have been evaluating why some individuals may benefit from aspirin while others do not derive any benefit.

As the medical field continues to progress in the understanding of genetic variances and the effects of associated with these differences, exploration into improved understanding of these associations continues.

Researchers recently conducted a clinical study to further evaluate data including aspirin use and incidence of colorectal cancer according to the BRAF mutation.The study included nearly 128,000 individuals participating in the Nurses’ Health Study and the Health Professionals Follow-up Study. There were 1,226 incidences of colorectal cancer with available molecular data including their status of the BRAF mutation.

Regular aspirin use was not associated with a reduction in the risk of developing colorectal cancer among individuals with a BRAF mutation.
Among those with no BRAF mutation, those who used more than 14 tablets per week had a significantly reduced risk of developing colorectal cancer compared to those who did not regularly use aspirin.
The researchers concluded that using aspirin and its associated risk with developing colorectal cancer differs according to the BRAF mutation among individuals. Further trials are necessary to confirm this finding; however, these results exemplify the issues of genetics and varying outcomes in individuals based upon these genetic differences.

Reference: Nishihara R, Lochhead P, Kuchiba A, et al. Aspirin Use and Risk of Colorectal Cancer According to BRAF Mutation Status. JAMA – The Journal of the American Medical Association. 2013;309(24):2563-2571. doi:10.1001/jama.2013.6599.