Previous studies have hinted that aspirin might help prevent cancer, but now we have proof -- aspirin can dramatically reduce the risk of bowel cancer, a leading cause of cancer-related death.
A study, which focussed on hereditary bowel cancer, found that a 63 per cent reduction of cancer within this high-risk group was possible by taking 300mg tablets of aspirin. Taking into account other evidence around gastrointestinal cancers, this indicates that a low dose of aspirin a day could significantly reduce the risk of non-hormone driven cancers. Of course it isn't all good news, aspirin can also increase the risk of gut bleeds and ulcers, but do the benefits out-weigh the negatives? Professor Sir John Burn of Newcastle University thinks so:
"I take aspirin, and that was a balanced judgement based on that weighing of risk and benefit."
"Everyone can take the evidence and make their own choice."
The risk of stomach bleeding and ulcers can be reduced by taking aspirin coated with a pH-stable shell, which enables the tablet to survive the stomach in-tact for absorption further down the digestive tract. Of course the doctor should be your first port-of-call should you be thinking about taking a bit of aspirin, but the findings certainly are encouraging for cancer prevention. [Lancet via New Scientist]