OXFORD, England – Taking an aspirin every day can cut the risks from a range of cancers and even help treat the disease, according to new research published by University of Oxford scientists, The (London) Times reported.
The research, based on data gathered from 51 trials and tens of thousands of patients, adds to growing evidence that the cheap generic drug significantly reduces deaths caused by cancer and offers protection by preventing the spread of the disease.
"We showed previously that daily aspirin substantially reduces the long-term risk of some cancers, particularly colorectal cancer and oesophageal cancer, but that these effects don't appear until about eight to ten years after starting treatment," said Peter Rothwell, who led the research team.
"What we have now shown is that aspirin also has short-term effects, which are manifest after only two to three years. In particular, we show that aspirin reduces the likelihood that cancers will spread to distant organs by about 40 to 50 percent."
Rothwell said it was too early to recommend mass use of aspirin, but called for urgent trials to confirm that the drug could be effective "as an additional treatment for cancer, to prevent distant spread of the disease."
A UK Department of Health spokeswoman told the Times the government was "currently considering, with Cancer Research UK, how to ensure the public gets the best advice on this issue, given that there are risks as well as potential benefits from taking aspirin."
Other experts have warned against healthy people taking the drug because it increases the risk of serious bleeding in the stomach and brain, Sky News reported.
Kat Arney, of Cancer Research UK, said there is growing evidence that people in their 50s and 60s can reduce their risk of the disease by taking low dose aspirin.
"But the risk of bleeding may be higher in older people so that's not a good idea," she said. "Aspirin is not for everyone. It depends on how old you are and your history of other diseases."