An Aspirin a Day Could Keep Cancer Away

Millions of people approaching middle age or who are elderly have heard advice from their doctor to take a low-dose aspirin to lower their risk of heart attack or stroke. But could this daily preventive be staving off cancer for them as well? New research published Dec. 7 in The Lancet suggests that it does.

The study in the Lancet, one of the leading oncology, neurology, and infectious disease journals, looked at data from more than 25,000 patients, following up on previous trials. Researchers found that a daily aspirin reduced cancer risk by at least 20 percent during the 20-year period during the studies time frame.

When looking at specific cancers, aspirin appeared to lower esophageal cancer death risk by 60 percent, bowel cancer death risk by 40 percent, lung cancer death risk by 30 percent, and prostate cancer death risk by 10 percent.

Aspirin, the brand name of the drug acetylsalicylic acid (ASA), is already known to prevent heart attacks or strokes in some people, particularly those who are at increased risk or have already suffered one, because it makes blood less likely to clot. The cancer study in encouraging, but there is a note of caution for patients to consider: Fully understanding the relationship between Aspirin and cancer prevention, as well as the risks of bleeding, anemia and other side effects among patients who take it daily, is still a long way off said the studies authors who will continue to do more research in the role aspirin can play in cancer reduction.

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