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Take an aspirin a day and you may keep cancer at bay

It has long been prescribed to people with heart problems but new research has shown it also has tumour-busting effects.

A daily dose of aspirin – costing as little as 1p – reduces the risk of colon, lung and prostate cancer by half and lowers the chances of cancers spreading by 36 per cent. 

A similar match was found for the spread of oesophageal, gastric, biliary and breast cancer, according to Prof Peter Rothwell of John Radcliffe Hospital, Oxford.

He said the findings, based on more than 50 clinical trials within three separate studies, ‘add to the case for daily aspirin in prevention of cancer’.

Prof Rothwell said: ‘If a simple compound can stop cancer spreading then scientists may be able to go away and develop something similar to aspirin – that works even better.’

But Prof Rothwell, who has taken the blood-thinning drug for the last four years, said its effect is still relatively small. ‘Stopping smoking, for instance, is going to have a far bigger effect on reducing the risk of cancer than aspirin.

‘It is not a miracle cure but can have the same sort of effect as, for instance, eating more healthily and taking more exercise,’ he said.

Dr Andrew Chan and Dr Nancy Cook, of Harvard Medical School who reviewed The Lancet studies used by Prof Rothwell agreed his data was another step closer to broadening recommendations for aspirin use.

Separate research has suggested healthy people taking the anti-inflammatory drug could be doing more harm than good.

 

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