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London - Taking aspirin cuts the risk of certain cancers by more than 40 percent, even when only taken every other day, according to a study.
Harvard researchers have found that even a very low dose of the painkiller drastically reduces the odds of bowel and stomach cancers.
Women who took one 100mg tablet every other day were 43 percent less likely to get bowel cancer and 36 percent less at risk of stomach cancer, after a period of 20 years.
A number of studies have shown that a daily dose of aspirin drastically cuts the risk of developing cancer, and of tumours spreading once diagnosed. But until now it was not known if the pills had similar, preventive effects when taken less frequently. Although aspirin has been dubbed the wonder drug as it protects against heart attacks, strokes and cancer, it causes stomach bleeds and ulcers in some patients.
Taking a low dose every other day however would mean such patients would be less likely to have these side effects.
Researchers from Harvard University and Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, the US, looked at the records of 39,876 women over 45. Half were told to take one 100mg aspirin tablet every other day for ten years while the remainder were given a placebo – a dummy drug. The researchers compared how many women from each group had developed cancer and found no difference.
But when they looked at them again eight years later – 18 years after the study started – they found the odds of developing bowel or stomach cancer amongst those on aspirin were significantly lower.
They think it may take several years for aspirin’s beneficial effects to ‘kick in’.
Lead researcher Professor Nancy Cook said people should not start taking aspirin every other day without consulting their GP. She told the National Cancer Research Institute conference in Liverpool: ‘There are side effects. They are rarely fatal but they do cause the need for hospitalisation.’ - Daily Mail