Private medical insurance holders will be interested to hear that an aspirin a day cuts the risk of cancer after just 3 years, according to a breakthrough new study.
Recent research has shown that a daily dose of aspirin reduces the long-term risk of some cancers, particularly colorectal cancer and oesophageal cancer. However, these effects don’t appear until about 8 to 10 years after starting treatment.
But now, scientists have discovered that aspirin also has short-term effects on slowing the progression of cancer.
A study, presented in The Lancet, found that taking a low-dose (75mg) aspirin daily for between three and five years reduced the chance of being diagnosed with cancer at that time by 19 per cent. After five years or more of taking aspirin the reduction rose to 30 per cent.
The short-term effects are caused by aspirin stopping the cancers from developing in the first place, as well as inhibiting them from spreading.
Another new study showed that aspirin almost halved the chances of diagnosed cancer spreading to other organs over 6.5 years. Some scientists believe aspirin inhibits the spread of cancer by helping to shut down the chemical pathways that feed tumours.
In addition, aspirin seems to have a far greater effect on reducing cancer than reducing heart attacks and strokes, despite being commonly prescribed for these conditions.
Study leader Professor Peter Rothwell, of Oxford University's Stroke Prevention Research Unit, said that heart associations should now update their guidelines on aspirin to reflect its role in fighting cancer.
Scientists hope that aspirin will be effective as an additional treatment for cancer to prevent it spreading. Researchers are already in the process of creating a ‘super aspirin’ compound which could shrink tumours and tackle 11 different forms of cancer.
However, experts warn that more research is needed before determining whether treatment with aspirin is safe to use on everyone, since it does increase the risk of stomach bleeding in some people which can occasionally be fatal.
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