You’ve probably heard how taking aspirin can help prevent heart attacks, but one new study shows that daily aspirin use can slightly lower your risk of dying from cancer, especially cancer in the gastrointestinal tract.
The study, which was funded by the American Cancer Society in Atlanta, showed that people who took aspirin daily for five years or more had an 8 percent decrease in cancer mortality compared with those who didn’t take aspirin. The decrease doubled when the study looked at data collected over 20 years of follow-up.
The study began in 1992 with 100,139 participants, more than half of whom were 60 or older and female; most of the study subjects were white. Over the 20 years of the complete study, 5,138 died from cancer. Even those who took aspirin daily for fewer than five years had a slightly lower cancer death rate, the study showed
The lead author of the study, Dr. John Baron of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, said while the results are encouraging, daily aspirin use isn’t a cancer cure.
“Aspirin is a real drug, with definite toxicity,” Baron wrote in an editorial that accompanied the study. “As for any preventative intervention, the benefits must be balanced against the risks, particularly when the benefits are delayed, whereas the risks are not.”