Aspirin & Colorectal Cancer Risk DNA Test

Aspirin is commonly recommended as a preventative medication to protect against heart attacks in at-risk individuals. Several studies have also identified an association between aspirin use and a reduced risk of developing colorectal cancer. However, this benefit depends on genetic variation. Some individuals inherit genetic variants that result in an increased risk of colorectal cancer if taking aspirin regularly. This test determines whether or not an individual will benefit from taking low dose aspirin over an extended period.

Colorectal cancer facts:

  • Cancers in the colon and rectum
  • Also known as bowel cancer and colon cancer
  • More than 1 million new cases worldwide every year
  • 2nd most common cancer in women (globally)
  • 3rd most common cancer in men (globally)
  • One of the leading causes of deaths due to cancer
  • Risk is increased by obesity, physical inactivity, smoking and consumption of red and processed meat

Aspirin as a preventative medication
Aspirin reduces inflammation and inhibits blood clots by blocking the action of an enzyme called cyclooxygenase. It is widely recommended for at-risk individuals to help prevent heart attacks. There is also an association between low-dose aspirin use and a reduced risk of colorectal cancer. However, not everyone receives the same benefit from aspirin use, and some people are actually increasing their risk of colorectal cancer by taking low-dose aspirin regularly.

Potential side effects of aspirin:

  • Gastrointestinal bleeding and ulcers
  • Ringing of the inner ear
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea
  • Abdominal pain
  • Headaches
  • Muscle cramps
  • INCREASED risk of colorectal cancer if you have inherited the “wrong” genes

Genetic variants associated with cancer risk and regular aspirin use
Recent studies have shown that two genetic variants are associated with the effects of aspirin on colorectal cancer risk – rs2965667 near the MGST1 gene, and rs16973225 near the IL16 gene. The most common nucleotide at each marker is associated with a decreased risk of colorectal cancer if aspirin is used regularly.

However, individuals who inherit the “wrong” genes receive no colorectal cancer-related benefits from aspirin use:

  • Rare nucleotide at marker rs2965667 (4% of the population) = INCREASED risk of colorectal cancer with regular aspirin use
  • Rare nucleotide at marker rs16973225 (9% of the population) = no change in colorectal cancer risk with regular aspirin use

This genetic analysis determines if an individual has the most common or the rare genetic allele at each marker. If an individual is lucky enough to inherit the common alleles, aspirin is likely to reduce their risk of colorectal cancer. However, if they have inherited one or both of the rare alleles, alternative preventative methods are recommended.


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