Your Health

New study says an aspirin a day may keep cancer away

New study says an aspirin a day may keep cancer away

austin photo: news_aug_kreisberg_aspirin
An aspirin a day could keep cancer away Courtesy of Bayer US

A daily dose of aspirin may have more benefits than reducing heart disease risk — it may also help prevent cancer. A study involving more than 100,000 predominantly white elderly participants, tracked for 11 years, found daily aspirin use lowered cancer mortality.

The study pooled results from existing randomized trials of daily aspirin for prevention of vascular events and found daily aspirin use was associated with an estimated 16 percent lower overall risk of cancer mortality.

16 percent! Think about it: An over the counter pain reliever that costs pennies a pill is more effective at preventing cancer than any other drug on the market, over the counter or prescription. There’s been nothing like it; it’s right up there with not smoking.

These observations confirmed other studies published earlier this year which showed that aspirin reduced death from skin cancers — including the deadly melanoma skin cancer — as well as colorectal cancers, lung cancer and esophageal cancer.

You’re probably wondering why your doctor hasn’t said anything about this. That’s because many doctors are skeptical; they want more proof that the benefits of taking aspirin outweigh its risks.

But, most of these docs write prescriptions without thinking twice about risks. And how many of us swallow supplements (that are not regulated) like candy? Don’t get me started on the pharmaceutical companies. A drug that costs pennies a day? Let them get cancer, then we can push the pills that generate millions in profits.

In the absence of any bleeding disorders, an active peptic ulcer or an allergy to aspirin, aspirin’s benefits far outweigh its risks. At low doses (like the 81 mg baby aspirin) there’s very little risk of gastric damage. The benefits are enormous. In men, aspirin can reduce the risk for heart attack in half and in women it significantly reduces risk of stroke. Now, you can add reducing cancer mortality to the list.

If you are still skeptical, the US Preventive Services Task Force, a panel of health care experts that evaluates the latest scientific evidence on clinical preventive services, recommends aspirin use for prevention of cardiovascular disease when the benefits clearly outweigh the risks or harms. 

The skeptics want to wait for the gold standard clinical trial. Good luck with that. As Roni Rubin said in the New York Times, “Some cancer doctors commended the new research, saying said that despite the limitations of the analyses, no other long-term clinical trials of aspirin and cancer are likely to be done because of the enormous expense involved and the fact that aspirin is a cheap generic drug."

At least someone came out and said it. If it doesn’t generate huge profits the pharmaceuticals won’t bother to test it. They’re betting that once all the hoopla dies down, we’ll forget about aspirin and they can get on with the “business” (not healthcare).

Don’t waste any time. Ask your doctor about an aspirin regimen soon, and if he’s skeptical tell him the the Task Force recommends it.