Your key to cancer prevention may be hiding in your medicine cabinet.
Taking a daily dose of aspirin may help prevent—and possibly treat—cancer, according to studies published in the March issues of The Lancet and The Lancet Oncology.
The researchers conducted three studies. One was a review of more than 60 years of data that reported associations between aspirin use and cancer risks. Another analyzed five large randomized trials of daily aspirin consumption. The third looked at individual subject data from randomized trials of daily aspirin compared to no aspirin.
Their conclusion: Aspirin not only has short-term benefits in preventing cancer, it can reduce the likelihood of spreading to other organs by about 40 to 50 percent.
That’s extremely important because it’s the process of spreading to other organs (metastasis) that most commonly kills people with cancer, says study author Peter Rothwell, M.D., Ph.D., Professor of Clinical Neurology at Oxford University.
How can this little pill pack so much power? Aspirin effects the platelets in your blood, which release growth factors that can stimulate cancer development. More research is needed to fully understand the mechanism. (Are you at risk for prostate cancer?
As for preventing the spreading of cancer, their research suggests that the effect is largest in adenocarcinomas. “These include cancers of the gut, particularly colorectal cancer, some cancers of the lung, and most cancers of the breast and prostate,” says Rothwell.
Think aspirin might be right for you? Keep the dosage low and talk to your doctor about which amount is right for you. Although aspirin increases the risk of bleeding, the conditions that aspirin helps to prevent—including cancer, stroke, and heart attacks—are more likely to be disabling or fatal, says Rothwell