Recent research has linked low-dose aspirin to preventing certain kinds of cancer. This is in addition to its already-popular effects to reduce the risks of heart attack and stroke. And as an open-patent drug (anyone can use or make it), it’s among the cheapest drugs to produce.
According to the Lancet, cancer rates of people taking low-dose aspirin have as much as 54% lower chance of developing cancer. This is a widespread effect preventing many kinds of cancer: lung cancer, prostate cancer, colon cancer, skin cancer, and others. In this case, “low-dose” aspirin refers to daily doses of about 75mg to 300mg.
Studies in the U.S. and Denmark have found aspirin to be especially effective in both preventing and treating skin cancer. In a trial of over 18,000 participants, there were significant decreases in the rates of skin cancer: 13% to 15% reduction among low-dose aspirin users. The anti-cancer effects are also dose dependent, and those using higher doses saw up to 54% reduction in dangerous skin cancers.
This new feature of aspirin was discovered while testing aspirin’s effectiveness as a preventative measure for heart diseases such as heart attack and stroke. More recent research on these effects have shown that aspirin is very effective in preventing recurring heart attack and stroke, but it has very little effect on preventing heart attack and stroke among healthy individuals.
Some doctors are urging caution with the over-use of aspirin, however, especially at higher doses. The side-effects can include very serious stomach problems such as ulcers and bleeding. Additionally, aspirin has a strong anti-platelet effect that serves to thin the blood. This can result in bruising and excessive bleeding.
Regardless of critics, however, a group doctors in the UK will begin lobbying to include low-dose aspirin among the encouraged cancer prevention methods, as reported in The Guardian. This means that it could be added alongside not smoking, eating healthy, and getting regular exercise in public health announcements.
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