(HealthDay News) — Low-dose aspirin is associated with a reduced risk for hepatocellular carcinoma among patients with chronic viral hepatitis, according to a study published in the March 12 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.

Tracey G. Simon, M.D., M.P.H., from Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, and colleagues examined the impact of low-dose aspirin use among adults with chronic hepatitis B or hepatitis C. Data were included for 14,205 low-dose aspirin users who were propensity score-matched with nonusers.

The researchers found that the estimated cumulative incidence of hepatocellular carcinoma was 4.0 and 8.3 percent among aspirin users and nonusers, respectively, with a median of 7.9 years of follow-up (adjusted hazard ratio [HR], 0.69; 95 percent confidence interval [CI], 0.62 to 0.76). This association was dependent on duration, with adjusted HRs of 0.90 (95 percent CI, 0.76 to 1.06) for one to less than three years of use, 0.66 (95 percent CI, 0.56 to 0.78) for three to less than five years of use, and 0.57 (95 percent CI, 0.42 to 0.70) for at least five years of use versus short-term use. Ten-year liver-related mortality was 11.0 and 17.9 percent among aspirin users and nonusers (adjusted HR, 0.73; 95 percent CI, 0.67 to 0.81). The 10-year risk for gastrointestinal bleeding did not differ between the groups.

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“Our findings support the need for randomized clinical trials designed to test the benefits of aspirin for primary prevention of hepatocellular carcinoma,” the authors write.

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