Taking a daily dose of aspirin could help ward off some types of cancer, according to a new study. Researchers say that long-term use of the drug can significantly cut the chance of dying from gastrointestinal illnesses such as bowel cancer and stomach cancer. The Queen Mary University of London study estimated that 130,357 cancer deaths could be prevented over two decades if everyone in the UK between 50 and 64 took the drug for 10 years. Lead researcher Professor Jack Cuzick said he believed GPs should recommend healthy patients take a daily dose of the drug.
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 Jack Cuzick
His team found bowel cancer incidence could be cut by 35%, and deaths by 40%, if people took aspirin for 10 years. Stomach and oesophageal cancer were reduced by 30%, and deaths from these diseases by 35% and 50%.It also reduced breast cancer incidence by 10% and deaths by 5%. The risks of daily aspirin use included a sharp increase in serious or fatal bleeding in the gut for people over 70, due to the drug’s blood-thinning effect. It also upped the risk of peptic ulcer by 30% to 60%, and the chances of dying from a stroke by 21%. Dr Julie Sharp, head of health information for Cancer Research UK, which co-funded the study, also sounded a note of caution.
Aspirin is showing promise in preventing certain types of cancer, but it’s vital that we balance this with the complications it can cause
Dr Julie Sharp, head of health information for Cancer Research UK