Long-term aspirin use may reduce hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) risk in a dose dependent manner, according to the findings of a study published in JAMA Oncology.

Uniquely, the study focused on nurses who enrolled in the Nurses’ Health Study (NHS) and the Health Professionals Follow-up Study (HPFS) in 1976 and 1986, respectively. As part of those studies, the nurses completed questionnaires at enrollment and biennially on their lifestyle, medial history, and disease outcomes for 26 years.

The researchers in the present study retrospectively evaluated that data to identify a total of 133,371 health care professionals who reported data on aspirin use, frequency, dosage, and duration. Participants with a cancer diagnosis at baseline were excluded. A total of 108 incident hepatocellular carcinoma cases were documented, 65 women and 43 men.

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The regular use of aspirin, 2 or more standard-dose 325-mg tablets per week, was associated with a reduced risk of HCC. Interestingly, the benefit appeared to be dose related with a risk hazard of 0.87 for 1.5 standard-dose tablets per week, 0.51 for more than 1.5 to 5 tables per week, and 0.49 for more than 5 tables per week. With the use of 1.5 or more standard-dose aspirin tablets per week for 5 or more years, the risk of developing HCC was significantly lower.

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“This study suggests that regular, long-term aspirin use is associated with a dose-dependent reduction in HCC risk, which is apparent after 5 or more years of use,” report the authors. However, they caution that “further research appears to be needed to clarify whether aspirin use represents a feasible strategy for primary prevention against HCC.”


Simon TG, Ma Y, Ludvigsson JF, et al. Association between aspirin use and risk of hepatocellular carcinoma [published online October 4, 2018]. JAMA Oncol. doi: 10.1001/jamaoncol.2018.4154