Study: Aspirin lowers cancer risk

March 20, 2012 7:25:04 PM PDT
An aspirin a day could possibly keep cancer away.

The age old wonder drug may be a modern miracle.

A new study suggests its benefits extend far beyond helping to prevent heart attacks and strokes; it could help protect you against cancer.

The data could give new meaning to the phrase "an aspirin a day".

According to research pulled from more than 50 studies swallowing aspirin daily may help prevent and possibly treat cancer.

It's the type of potential breakthrough that has caught the attention of the American Cancer Society.

"Whenever we have a study that shows something that can prevent cancer it's exciting," an official with the American Cancer Society said.

What's giving doctors and patients hope? According to the studies, people who took aspirin every day appeared less likely to get cancer, or to have their cancer spread and to die from cancer.

But, the benefits of taking an aspirin a day appear only after years of use.

It took at least five years of a low dose pill, and even with high doses, the benefits don't show for at least three years.

Still the results of the study are widely viewed as promising.

"This is the largest body of evidence that suggest that there may be affect of aspirin in reducing cancers," said Nancy Cook, of Brigham and Women's Hospital.

What largely remains a mystery is why aspirin seems to have an impact on cancer.

One theory is that it blocks some proteins that help tumors grow.

Until there is more definitive research medical professionals like Dr. Clare Bradley have a warning.

"We need to do some more analysis because there are also risks associated with taking aspirin," Dr. Bradley said.

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