Chances are there’s a bottle of aspirin in your medicine cabinet. Aspirin, or acetylsalicylic acid, was first available in pill form in 1915, and is still a mainstay for most of us with good reason. It’s inexpensive, it’s available over-the-counter and it reduces pain and fever.
Now three new studies out of Oxford University in Britain and published in the medical journal, The Lancet, indicate that in the short-term—two or three years—aspirin may prevent cancer and even prevent the disease from spreading. Among study participants taking aspirin, risk of developing cancer was cut by nearly 25 percent versus the non-aspirin control group. In aspirin-takers, risk of death from cancer was cut by 37 percent.
Earlier data have already shown that one aspirin a day cuts long-term risk of cancers like bowel and esophageal. However, results weren’t documented until eight to 10 years following the start of treatment.
Pop this little pill?
We know that taking aspirin may increase the risk of ulcers and gastrointestinal bleeding. The Oxford researchers determined that as time passed, the risk of bleeding appeared to diminish. Scientists agree that more studies are needed to further assess the effects of aspirin on the stomach. People on blood thinners should not take aspirin without physician approval.
Aspirin is recommended for patients at risk for cardiac disease because it reduces the “stickiness” of blood platelets and reduces bodily inflammation that may tighten the spaces in which your blood flows. Inflammation is also implicated in osteoarthritis, Alzheimer’s disease, age-related macular degeneration and multiple sclerosis, among other conditions.
This powerful little pill has even been suggested as a wrinkle-reducer. I’m checking with my doctor now! Before you consider aspirin for anything, please check with yours.