Personal Health

Live a Little Longer! An Aspirin a Day Cuts Cancer Rates Significantly

New study finds daily aspirin intake reduces bowel and stomach cancer deaths.

While there has long been debate over the health risks of prolonged aspirin intake, an extensive scientific review has found that taking a small dose daily reduces the risks of developing, and even dying, from certain types of cancer, Reuters reported.

Researchers who examined all available studies and clinical trials concerning the harms and benefits of the common drug to date, found that taking 75 to 100 milligrams of aspirin a day for 10 years can cut rates of developing bowel cancer by 35 percent and reduce deaths from the disease by 40 percent.

Similarly, rates of developing esophageal and stomach cancer were also reduced by 30 percent while the death rate was cut by 35 to 50 percent.

Not surprisingly, there are some provisos. In order to reap the benefits of aspirin, individuals needed to take a daily dose for at least five to 10 years between the ages of 50 and 65.  What's more, according to the researchers, no benefits were likely to be seen for at least the first three years of intake and death rates were only reduced after five years. 

"Our study shows that if everyone aged between 50 and 65 started taking aspirin daily for at least 10 years, there would be a nine percent reduction in the number of cancers, strokes and heart attacks overall in men, and around seven percent in women," Professor John Cuzick, head of the Center for Cancer Prevention at London's Queen Mary University said in the Annals of Oncology.

Yet, despite the findings, researchers still warn of the risks of gastrointestinal bleeding in the stomach due to prolonged aspirin use and consider that to be an important health factor that shouldn’t be overlooked.  

Commonly prescribed to those who already suffer from heart disease to reduce the risks of clots forming in blood vessels, the risk of the digestive tract bleeding can increase from 2.2 percent to 3.6 percent among 60-year-olds who take daily aspirin for 10 years.

"Whilst there are some serious side effects that can't be ignored, taking aspirin daily looks to be the most important thing we can do to reduce cancer after stopping smoking and reducing obesity, and will probably be much easier to implement," Professor John Cuzick, head of the Center for Cancer Prevention at London's Queen Mary University said.

The researchers recommend obtaining medial advice before taking daily medication.

Jodie Gummow is a senior fellow and staff writer at AlterNet.


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