An aspirin a day may keep the doctor away, and help you live longer

Aspirin may help you live a longer, healthier life, according to a team of British researchers. The scientists pored over eight clinical studies involving more than 25,500 patients who had been on daily aspirin therapy for at least four years and found they had a 21 percent reduced risk of dying of cancer compared to patients who were on a placebo. The findings were recently published in The Lancet.

The study also found that dying from any cause – not just cancer – was 10 percent lower for people taking one low-dose aspirin per day. The study observed patients taking anywhere from 75mg to 500mg of aspirin daily, and was originally intended to look at aspirin’s ability to reduce vascular events.

Previous studies have suggested long-term aspirin therapy may help protect patients against colon cancer. This is the first study to show the pills may also protect against other cancers such as esophageal, gastrointestinal, lung, brain and pancreatic cancers. The study found aspirin reduced a 20-year prostate cancer risk by 10 percent, reduced lung cancer risk by 30 percent, reduced bowel cancer risk by 40 percent, and reduced esophageal/throat cancer risk by 60 percent.

Many doctors shy away from recommending long-term, daily aspirin therapy for patients because of potentially serious side effects, which include stomach and intestinal bleeding. Previous studies have shown that low-dose aspirin therapy can reduce heart attacks and stroke. The new cancer-preventing findings may suggest the benefits of aspirin therapy far outweigh the risks. Researchers say the findings may also change aspirin guidelines and open doors for researchers to better understand the process of tumor development and the impact of drug intervention.

Researchers suggest that people begin a daily aspirin regime when they reach their mid-40s, as that is when the risk of most cancers rises significantly.