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Editorial |

Low-Dose Aspirin and Vitamin E:  Challenges and Opportunities in Cancer Prevention

Eric J. Jacobs, PhD; Michael J. Thun, MD
JAMA. 2005;294(1):105-106. doi:10.1001/jama.294.1.105.
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This issue of JAMA includes 2 articles from the Women’s Health Study (WHS).1,2 This 10-year long, placebo-controlled, randomized trial of low-dose aspirin and vitamin E included nearly 40 000 predominantly middle-aged women with no history of cancer or cardiovascular disease.3 The WHS used a 2 × 2 factorial design to evaluate the effects of low-dose aspirin (100 mg) taken every other day and 600 IU of vitamin E (in the form of natural-source α-tocopherol), also taken every other day. Neither alternate-day, low-dose aspirin nor vitamin E showed any evidence of efficacy in reducing overall cancer incidence or mortality.1,2 With respect to noncancer outcomes, notable findings for low-dose aspirin included a reduction in stroke risk, no apparent effect on myocardial infarction, and an increased risk of gastrointestinal bleeding requiring transfusion.4 Vitamin E had no apparent effect on either cardiovascular disease incidence or on gastrointestinal bleeding.2

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